Free early education and childcare for three and four year olds

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What is free early education and childcare?

The government funds up to 570 hours of free childcare per year for ALL 3 and 4 year olds until they go to full-time school. This works out as 15 hours a week if your child takes up the childcare during term time, or you could choose to take fewer hours over more weeks in the year.  This is worth over £3,000 per year.

All three and four year olds are able to take a place the term after their birthday:

Child’s 3rd birthday is between: When your child can take their place

1 January to 31 March

the beginning of Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

the beginning of Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

the beginning of Spring term on or after 1 January

Is it really free?

Yes. The childcare setting claims the money from the council for these hours so you don’t have to pay for them. You can also choose to pay for extra hours at many childcare settings.

Where can my child take up a place?

Places are available across the District at nursery schools and many primary schools, pre-schools, nurseries and childminders.  If you would like to find a childcare setting, please use our simple Childcare Finder.

Why would I want my child to take up a place?

Research shows that good quality childcare from an early age makes a real difference to how well a child does in the future.  It will give your child the chance to make new friends, begin to get ready for school with new activities and improve their language skills.  It will also free up your time for training, hobbies, a break, a part-time job, more hours at work or reduce your childcare bill.

30 hours childcare

You may have heard a lot about the 30 hours childcare but what is it?

The Government calls this entitlement 30 hours extended childcare. It is a Government scheme to provide childcare support for children aged 3 and 4 to help working parents from September 17. A child is eligible the term after their 3rd birthday.

Early education and childcare is a great way parents can help their child make new friends, learn new skills and have fun.

What is classed as a working parent?

Working parent means both parents have to be working (or sole parent in a lone parent family) & each parent/carer earns on average a weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) (for under 25 year olds) or national living wage (NLW) (if over 25 years old), and less than £100,000 per year. Even if you are on a zero hour contract you can apply for a place as long as you expect to be earning the above. A working parent can be self-employed and employed. 

Foster carers are only eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children (if they meet the criteria). They are not eligible for children that they foster.

You are also eligible if both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave or statutory sick pay, the parent is employed and the other parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

How do I apply for a place?

Parents and carers will be able to check whether they are eligible and apply online from summer 2017 through a national checker.  As soon as the national checker is available we will ensure we get this information on here for you to apply.

To receive emails about the new childcare schemes please provide your email address to

Where can I access the extra 15 hours?

Eligible parents can access the additional hours for their child at participating Ofsted registered childcare providers, primary schools, independent schools or nursery schools. If your child is already attending a childcare provider (including out of school clubs and holiday providers) or a school nursery ask them if they will be offering places from September 2017.

The Local Authority is currently consulting with childcare providers, schools and nursery schools to see who will be offering places. Not all providers will be offering places as it isn’t compulsory for providers to offer the 30 hours extended entitlement.

Parents can access 30 hours during term time or fewer hours all year round and can use the additional hours at more than one childcare provider.

Parents who are not eligible for the additional 15 hours will still be able to apply for the universal entitlement of 15 hours of early education for 3 and 4 year olds and for 2 year olds if they are eligible.

Early Years Pupil Premium

If you or your partner claims out-of-work benefits, your childcare provider/school can claim up to £300 of additional funding for their free early education. This money will help provide activities and new equipment to benefit your child.

Check your eligibility for the Early Years Pupil Premium now

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Contact details

Families Information Service

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Council Switchboard : 01274 432111

Council Address : Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford BD1 1HX

© 2017 City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council