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Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Free childcare

All 3 to 4 year-olds can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. Some 2 year-olds are also eligible.

More free childcare from September 2017

From September 2017 the free entitlement is due to increase to 30 hours per week for working parents.

Complete our childcare survey

We have a duty to secure enough childcare places to meet demand for the free 30 hours entitlement. Help us to do this by completing our online childcare survey.

To find out more read the following pages

When do I start getting free childcare?

You can start getting free childcare the term after your child turns 3 years-old. This will depend on when their birthday is:

  • 1 January and 31 March can claim from the term beginning on 1 April
  • 1 April and 31 August can claim from the term beginning on 1 September
  • 1 September and 31 December from the term beginning on 1 January


The free entitlement is claimed by the pre school or nursery on your behalf. You will just need to complete a form they will provide, authorising them to claim the funding.

Where can I use the free hours?

Free early learning is available at a variety of settings. These include nursery classes in maintained schools, maintained nursery schools, pre-schools, private nursery schools, private nurseries, independent schools and some childminders.

You can access the free childcare in the borough where you live or another borough.

Find pre schools and nurseries

Search the families directory to find nurseries and pre schools.

Some 2 year-olds are eligible for free childcare. 

If your child is eligible, you can start claiming after they turn 2. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is.

  • 1 January and 31 March can claim from the term beginning on 1 April
  • 1 April and 31 August can claim from the term beginning on 1 September
  • 1 September and 31 December from the term beginning on 1 January

Eligibility

You might eligible if any of the below apply to you:

  • I am claiming income support
  • I am claiming income based jobseekers allowance
  • I am claiming income based employment and support allowance
  • I am claiming child tax credit (but not entitled to working tax credit) with an annual income of less than £16,190
  • I am claiming the guarantee element of state pension credit
  • I receive support under part 5 of the immigration and asylum act 1999
  • I am claiming working tax credit with an annual income of less than £16,190
  • I care for a child with a statement of special education needs or an education, health and care plan
  • I am claiming disability living allowance on behalf of my child
  • I care for a child who is 'looked after' by the local authority
  • I care for a child who has left care through special guardianship or an adoption/ residence order

How to apply

You can apply by completing our:

 

Where can I use the free hours?

Free early learning is available at a variety of settings. These include nursery classes in maintained schools, maintained nursery schools, pre-school groups, private nursery schools, private nurseries, voluntary sector nurseries and independent schools.


Can I choose when I use the free entitlement for two year olds?

Yes. The minimum session length your child can attend in a day is 2.5 hours and the maximum is 10 hours. Once a place has been allocated you will be able to discuss which hours you require with the chosen provider.

For more information about this scheme contact:

Early Years, Childcare & Play, by:

Phone: 0118 908 8260

Email: Earlyyears&childcare@wokingham.gov.uk


Not all providers are able to offer the 15 hours per week or over 38 weeks of the year for example, a provider in shared premises may only be open for 12 hours per week or an independent school may only operate for 33 or 34 weeks.

  • A provider offering less than 15 hours per week shouldn't do so without good reason. They also shouldn't charge for any additional hours up to the 15 hours. 
  • If you use a provider who is open for less than 38 weeks, you can't then take the remaining hours with another provider.
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