Free childcare

All 3 and 4 year olds and some 2 year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of free early education and childcare over 38 weeks of the year. If you are a working parent, your 3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to another 15 hours of childcare. Some providers may allow you to stretch your childcare over the 38 hours by using fewer hours each week.

There are a number of other schemes available to help with childcare costs. To check your eligibility go to the Childcare Choices website.

Some 2 year olds can get up to 15 hours of free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year. Some childcare providers offer fewer hours per week over extra weeks (up to 570 hours). This is a national childcare scheme known in Kent as 'Free for 2' and is available to 2 year olds who meet the Government's eligibility criteria.

Once you have been confirmed eligible for a free 2 year old place, the funding will remain with your child until they take up their free 3 year old place – even if your circumstances change.

Find out if your child is eligible

Child born between Will become eligible for free early education and childcare
1 January and 31 March The start of term 5 following their second birthday (after Easter holiday)
1 April and 31 August The start of term 1 following their second birthday (after Summer holiday)
1 September and 31 December The start of term 3 following their second birthday (after Christmas/New Year holiday)

Apply

You can apply for the Free for 2 scheme now if your child is eligible to receive childcare from September. If your child is eligible to receive childcare under the from January 2019, you need to apply in December.

Apply online now

If you can’t apply online you need to either:

  • go to your local children’s centre - they can help you apply
  • ask your preferred childcare provider to help you apply. The provider must be registered with us as well as Ofsted. If you're not sure whether they're registered, you can see our list of all providers who offer the funding, ask the provider or call us on 03000 41 23 23 to find out.

Please do not apply more than once as this can delay the checking process.

For more information on eligibility and using your free childcare for 2 year olds, read our guide for parents.

Universal entitlement

All 3 and 4 year olds can have up to 15 hours of free childcare each week for 38 weeks a year. Some childcare providers may offer fewer hours per week over more weeks of a year (up to 570 hours). This is known as stretched funding.

This is a national scheme every child in England is entitled to.

For more information about using your free childcare, read our parents' guide to 15 hours (universal) funding.

30 hours of free childcare

Eligible working families with 3 and 4 year olds can receive up to 30 hours of free childcare each week. This is an extra 15 hours of free childcare in addition to the universal entitlement and is known as extended entitlement.

It is available over 38 weeks a year or some childcare providers may offer fewer hours per week over more weeks a year (up to 1,140 hours in total for the combined 30 hours).

To get the additional hours you will need to sign up online to get an eligibility code.

To find out about full eligibility criteria, how to apply and other information read our guide to 30 hour funding.

Apply for 30 hours of free childcare

Find out when your 3 year old is eligible

Child born between Will become eligible for free childcare
1 January and 31 March The start of term 5 following their third birthday (after Easter holiday)
1 April and 31 August The start of term 1 following their third birthday (after Summer holiday)
1 September and 31 December The start of term 3 following their third birthday (after Christmas/New Year holiday)