Three and four year old early education (30 hours extended entitlement)

A short film about 30 hours free childcare

The Department for Education spoke to parents in Wigan who have taken up a 30 hours place for their child as part of the early implementer programme, listen to how the additional hours have benefitted them.

30 hours free childcare case studies

The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours free childcare can have for working families. Watch the video to learn how these families have benefited from 30 hours.

  • Chelsea from Telford shares her story of how 30 hours childcare helped her find a healthy work/life balance.
  • Florentina from Brent shares her story of how 30 hours allowed her to increase her working hours while her son Erik, who has special educational needs, received speech and language therapy through his nursery.
  • Debbie and Jamie from Devon share their story of how  30 hours free childcare helped them both start working full-time, and increase the no. of days their daughter Ivy attends pre-school.
  • Murugan from Brent shares how 30 hours childcare helped with his family’s finances.
  • Letesha from Derby shares her story of how 30 hours childcare helped bring her family closer together.
  • Claire from Leeds shares her story of how 30 hours childcare helped give her back her 'independence'.

The DFE has also produced a helpful 'How-to' animation to support families applying for 30 hours free childcare.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.  I have a four year old son can I get money in addition to the free 15 hours early education to help with his childcare costs?

A.  You may be eligible for up to 30 hours free early education if you meet certain criteria (please see detail below)

Q.  Can I get any extra help with childcare costs?

A.  You could be eligible for tax credits, tax free childcare or universal credits (please see detail below)

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Find local early years providers

A list of local Early Years providers can be found on the Ofsted website.

The Local Offer provides information, support and signposting for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from birth to 25 years, their parents and carers, practitioners and professionals.

Am I eligible?

Eligibility is based on the following:

  • You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £139 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage)
  • If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible
  • You cannot get 30 hours free childcare if either you or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more 
  • If your working pattern and/or income has changed because of coronavirus (COVID-19); before you apply or reconfirm for 30 hours, please read how these changes may affect your eligibility

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How do I apply?

  • Visit HM Government Childcare Choices website for 11 digit code to take to participating childcare providers
  • Parents need to revalidate eligibility every 3 months

The code must be validated the term before the child takes up the place, failure to do this will result in the sessions not being funded.  Parents need to receive the code by:

  • 31 August - to access funding from September to December
  • 31 December - to access funding from January to March
  • 31 March - to access funding from April to August

What happens if my circumstances changes?

You will need to revalidate eligibility every 3 months by HMRC. You must log into your HMRC account and renew your eligibility code to enable you to continue to access your extended entitlement.

If you lose eligibility for the extended entitlement:

  • Funding will continue for a 'grace period' – this means you are able to keep your childcare for a short period.
  • Once the 'grace period' has lapsed, you will only be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement.

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When can my child start?

Funding is available from the term after your child’s third birthday, see the table below:

  • 1 January – 31 March - start summer term on or after 1 April.
  • 1 April – 31 August - start autumn term on or after 1 September.
  • 1 September – 31 December - start spring term on or after the 1 January.

Need further assistance?

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HM government offer additional help with childcare costs for parents

Tax Free Childcare

  • For working families (with children under 12  or under 17 if disabled), including the self-employed, in the UK
  • For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year

Tax Credits for Childcare

  • For working families, in the UK (with children under 16 or under 17 if disabled)
  • 70% of childcare costs, up to a cap
  • If you are unable to make a new claim for Tax Credits, you may be eligible to apply for Universal Credit instead.

Universal Credit for Childcare

  • For working families (with children under 17) claiming Universal Credit, in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • 85% of eligible childcare costs, up to a cap

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Useful links and documents

For further information about how to become a funded provider contact Milton Keynes Council at

Further information is available regarding funding for providers.