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Childcare for working parents of children aged 9 months to 4 years old

How to check if your child may get up to 15 or 30 hours funded early education a week for 38 weeks and how to apply.

How your child can receive up to 15 or 30 hours a week funded childcare

All 3 and 4-year-olds get  15 hours funded early education a week for 38 weeks a year. 

Working families of 3 and 4-year-olds may get another 15 hours childcare a week. That's up to a total of 30 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Working families of 2-year-olds may get 15 hours childcare a week for 38 weeks of the year.

From September 2024, working families of 9-month-olds may get  15 hours of funded early education a week for 38 weeks a year.

From September 2025 this will expand to 30 hours.

How to apply

  1. Apply through the government's Childcare Choices website.
  2. If successful you will get a code (an 11 digit number).
  3. To book a place take the code to your childcare provider with your child's birth certificate and proof of address. 

Guide to how it works

A child turns 9 months and the working parent/carer gets a code between these dates:

Up to 15/ 30 hours childcare starts from:

1 January to 31 March

1 April

1 April to 31 August

1 September

1 September to 31 December

1 January

Tax-free childcare

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

  • For working families, including the self-employed, in the UK
  • Earning under £100k and at least £167 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) each
  • Who aren't receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
  • With children aged 0-11 (or 0-16 if disabled)
  • For every £8 you pay into an online account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year

What you can use Tax-Free Childcare for

You can use it to pay for approved childcare, for example:

  • childminders, nurseries and nannies
  • after school clubs and play schemes

Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from Tax-Free Childcare.

Apply via Childcare Choices website

If you have problems applying or cannot access the internet, phone the government’s helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Further information

There is a guide about help with the cost of childcare (PDF, 1.5MB) by the Family and Childcare Trust.

Useful information about help paying for childcare from Money Saving Expert.