30 hours funded childcare

Working parents/carers of 3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to a further 15 hours funded childcare per week in addition to the universal 15 hours that is available to all 3 and 4 year olds.

30 hours funded childcare at a glance:

  • Available to working families of 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Can be used at private and independent nurseries, pre-school playgroups, nursery schools or nursery classes of primary schools, and childminders who offer funded places.
  • You must apply on the government website Childcare Choices.
  • You can start claiming the term after your child turns 3 and you have received a valid 30 hours code, whichever is later.
  • Your valid code must be given to your childcare provider before your child can start using the additional hours.
  • You must reconfirm your details and eligibility on your Childcare Account before each term or you could lose your funded hours.
  • You can split the hours across more than one provider.
  • Hours can be taken during term time (30 hours per week) or ‘stretched’, meaning less hours over more weeks during the year.

Am I eligible and how do I apply?

To check if you are eligible and to apply for your code you please go to the Childcare Choices website. 

When to apply

You can apply up to 16 weeks before your child turns 3 so that you have enough time to confirm your child’s place with the provider(s) you have chosen. 

To make sure your child has a place during the term you wish them to start, please apply by:

  • 31 August for a September place
  • 31 December for a January place
  • 31 March for an April place 

Finding 30 hours childcare

Use the map below to see which providers offer funded places. If you have any difficulties, please use our childminders or pre-school and nurseries directories.

Funded hours map

Not all providers may be able to offer a stretched offer, the full 30 hours per week or the particular pattern of provision that you require, however, you can split your entitlement across more than one provider. 

You will be able to access your free childcare: 

  • between 6.00am and 8.00pm;
  • up to a maximum of 10 free hours per day, 30 hours per week;
  • across a maximum of 3 providers (but no more than 2 in any one day). 

Important to remember

  • Ensure you make your application by the dates above; if you miss the deadline, you will miss out on your funded hours the following term and have to wait to start the term after.
  • You must give your code to your childcare provider, without this they cannot claim for your hours
  • Places are available the term after your child turns 3 and the date your received your valid 30 hours code, whichever is later.

Will I have to pay?

If you take more than 30 hours per week (or the equivalent of 1,140 hours per year), there will be a charge from the provider for the additional hours.

Please check with your provider for details of these and any other additional charges such as for meals, snacks or additional services. 

What if I don’t want to use the 30 hours?

You do not have to use the full 30 hours per week; if you wish, you can use fewer hours over more weeks. This is known as ‘stretched’ hours. Speak to your provider to see if they can offer you this. 

Can I choose when to use the 30 hours?

No, the provider will decide when they offer the 30 hours as they can with the universal 15 hours. 

What if my circumstances change?

Parents will need to confirm online with HMRC they are still meeting the eligibility criteria. If you are no longer eligible the government are looking at ways to make the process fair for the child and the provider. This is called a grace period. If you are still not eligible after this time you will be entitled to the 5 hours free early education. There is also tax-free childcare, which allows parents to save on childcare costs for children 0 to 12 years old.

For further information please contact us.