All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.
Two-year-old children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and/or an Education Health and Care plan (EHC) are also eligible for the 15 hours entitlement.
Approved providers include child-minders, playgroups, pre-schools and day nurseries that are registered and inspected by OFSTED. Parents can choose which provider they would like their child to go to, as long as they have places available.
If you are a working parent, you may be able to claim 30 hours.
When you can start claiming
The date you can start claiming depends on your child’s birthday.
|Child’s birthday||When you can claim|
|1 January to 31 March||The beginning of term on or after 1 April|
|1 April to 31 August||The beginning of term on or after 1 September|
|1 September to 31 December||The beginning of term on or after 1 January|
Example: Your child was born on 15 February 2017. You can get free childcare when the next term starts after 1 April 2020.
The free early education and childcare must be with an approved childcare provider.
It stops once your child starts reception class in a state school.
Eligibility for 2-year-olds
Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you get one of the following:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
- the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:
- they’re looked after by a local council
- they have a current education, health and care (EHC) plan
- they get Disability Living Allowance
- they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
You do not have to use all of your hours with the same childcare provider, your child is entitled to a total of 15 hours free care a week and you choose where and when you use those hours.