Everything you need to know about 30 hours free childcare

Approved childcare providers include registered childminders

Approved childcare providers include registered childminders - Credit: Getty Images/Brand X

Parents who are hoping to get 30 hours of free childcare for their three year old from September should apply before setting off on their summer holidays.

When to apply for 30 hours free childcare

Children who have turned, or will turn, three between April 1 and August 31 may be eligible for the free childcare from September 1.

The government recommends that you apply for the autumn term by July 31.

You can apply after that date, but you may not get your code in time, and you must have a valid code by the start of the new term.

Once you have your code, you will then need to apply every three months to reconfirm your eligibility to keep the code valid.

Am I entitled to 30 hours free childcare?

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You should be eligible for 30 hours free childcare if you, and your partner if you have one, are in work, on sick leave or annual leave, on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave. If you're on parental leave, you can't apply for the child you are on leave for.

If your partner is working and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, you may still be eligible.

You can also apply if you're starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.

How much you earn effects your eligibility - you will need to be bringing in at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average for the next three months.

And if you have a partner, they will need to earn at least the same amount too.

Who isn't eligible?

You won't be eligible if your child doesn't live with you or if you're from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you can't access public funds.

Your partner can apply instead if they are from the UK or EEA or from outside the EEA and their residence card says they can access public funds.

How can I take the hours?

Annually, you will get 1,140 hours of free childcare, which represents 30 hours a week during term time. But you can choose how to take it, spreading the hours over 52 weeks for example. You may have to pay for things like meals, nappies or trips out.

Where can I take the hours?

The free hours must be taken with an approved childcare provider. This can be a childminder, playscheme, nursery, club, school or home care worker, all of which have to be registered.

When do the free hours end?

When the child starts reception class at school or reaches compulsory school age.

How to apply for 30 hours free childcare

You can apply online

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