15 and 30 hours free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds
The free early education and childcare:
- Must be with an approved childcare provider
- Stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches school age, if later)
15 hours free childcare
All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours per week of free childcare during term time (570 hours in total). This is available from the start of the term after your child's third birthday. You do not have to apply for this, and there are no eligibility requirements. You just have to find an approved provider who can offer you a place.
30 hours free childcare
You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare (1,140 hours per year, which you can choose how you take).
If you’re eligible for the extra hours, you sign up online to get a code to give to your childcare provider. You’ll get the extra hours once the next term starts.
You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
- in work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
- each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week
This earnings limit doesn’t apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
You are not eligible if:
- Your child doesn’t usually live with you
- The child is your foster child · either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers.
If you can’t work
You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
How to apply for 30 hours of free childcare
Check your eligiblity and apply for extra hours. If you qualify, you will be given a voucher code which you can take to an approved nursery
Eligibility for 2 year old free childcare
Starts from the term after your child’s 2nd birthday, if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:
- 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)
Or if any of the following apply:
- They’re looked after by a local council
- They have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an 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
How to apply for free childcare for 2 year olds
Check eligiblity and apply for free childcare for 2 year olds on the Family Space Croydon website
Types of childcare providers
- Childminders - provide full/part time childcare within their own home for all ages up to 18.
- Day nurseries - provide full/ part time childcare in a setting for children aged up to 5 years – all year round.
- Pre-schools - provide part time childcare in a setting for children aged 2-5 years – term time only.
- Nursery schools and classes - provide full / part time childcare in a setting for children aged up to 5 years.
- Special Needs Support - All early years settings have a pre-school special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or inclusion lead. They will talk to you about your child’s needs and how the setting can best support them. It is their responsibility to co-ordinate support for your child in the setting and to liaise with other professionals to ensure that all the needs of your child are planned for in advance. They can help with providing specialist equipment and support for referrals for statutory assessment. They will also help to co-ordinate Early Help interventions.
The Family and Childcare Trust (external link), provides information on the types of childcare and how to choose it.
For more information or to find registered childcare (external link) in your area.
- A child born on or between 1 April and 31 August will become eligible for a place from 1 September
- A child born on or between 1 September and 31 December will become eligible for a place from 1 January
- A child born on or between 1 January and 31 March will become eligible for a place from 1 April.
Early Intervention Support Service
The service provides advice and support to early year’s settings including training for SENCOs and inclusion leads. The service will also give support on observation and strategies for helping children who need extra help. Training to support a child’s specific needs and extra staffing and resources may also be provided as well as support for developing and managing individual education plans, making referrals for specialist services and advising parents.