Parents' guide to Working Parent Entitlement for 9-to-35-month-olds

Starting April 2024, eligible working parents with 2-year-olds can receive up to 15 hours of childcare each week.

From September 2024, eligible working parents with 9-to 23-month-olds can receive up to 15 hours of childcare each week.

Find out when you will become eligible.

To qualify for a childcare code, you must meet the following criteria. Over the next 3 months you and your partner (if you have one) must each expect to earn at least:

  • £2,380 before tax if you’re aged 21 or over (equivalent to £183 per week)
  • £1,788 before tax if you’re aged 18 to 20 (equivalent to £137 per week)
  • £1,331 before tax if you’re under 18 or an apprentice (equivalent to £102 per week).

This is the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average.

You can use an average of how much you expect to earn over the current tax year if:

  • you work throughout the year but do not get paid regularly
  • you’re self-employed and do not expect to earn enough in the next 3 months.


You’re eligible if you’re 21 or over and do not have a regular income but earn £9,518 a year. This is the same as earning £2,379 every 3 months on average.

If you are self employed or on a zero-hour contract, you will be eligible if you meet the average earnings threshold.

You can still be eligible if you usually work but:

  • one or both parents are away from work on statutory sick pay
  • one or both parents are on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

In addition, you are eligible if one parent is employed, but the other:

  • has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits for caring
  • is disabled or incapacitated based on specific benefits.

Parents who work fewer than 16 hours a week

Eligibility is based on income earned, not hours worked. If a parent works for fewer than 16 hours, but in that time earns more than the equivalent of 16 hours per week at national living wage (or minimum wage for under 25s), they will still be eligible.

HMRC is responsible for determining who is eligible for the Working Parent Entitlement. Contact HMRC if you have queries about checking your eligibility or if you're experiencing ongoing technical issues by phone on 0300 123 40 97.

If you provide false information about eligibility you can be fined between £300 and £3000.

Visit Childcare Choices website for more information. You'll also find their handy eligibility checker, or why not sign up for updates.

You can apply for both the Working Parent Entitlement  and Tax-Free Childcare using a single application.

You must apply for and receive your new eligibility code for the Working Parent Entitlement before the start of the academic period. You need to apply for and have received your code by:

  • 31 August to start claiming the entitlement in September
  • 31 December to start claiming the entitlement in January
  • 31 March to start claiming the entitlement in April.

If you apply after these dates you will be issued with a start date to access 30 hours the following term. Check the exact dates of the holidays and terms.

To complete the application, you will need to provide details including:

  • your name
  • your address
  • your national insurance number
  • details if you expect to meet the income requirements over the next 3 months
  • any benefits you may receive.

If you are eligible, you will be given an 11-digit code that you will need to give to your childcare provider along with your national insurance number and your child’s birth certificate.

Your To find your code, log in to your childcare service account.

Your childcare provider will check the code is valid using the government’s eligibility checking system.


You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months from the date you applied to receive the entitlement. This also applies to Tax-Free Childcare.

How to reconfirm

If you applied online you must reconfirm your eligibility up to 4 weeks before your reconfirmation date by logging into your childcare service account and finding your reconfirmation date in the 'secure message' section. You should make a note of this date in case you don't receive the reminder from HMRC.

You will receive a reminder from HMRC by text or email 4 weeks, and then 2 weeks before the deadline to log into your childcare service account. Make sure you keep them informed of any changes to your contact details.

The reconfirmation process may be different for some. If your:

  • circumstances haven't changed you will need to tick a box to confirm this - you will not receive a new code as your existing one will get extended for 3 months more
  • circumstances have changed you must amend and resubmit your details - if your eligibility gets reconfirmed, your existing code will be extended for 3 months more
  • original application was made over the phone you need to call HMRC to reconfirm your eligibility on 0300 123 4097.

If you are no longer eligible

If you or your partner (if applicable) no longer meet the criteria, you will stop being eligible for this childcare entitlement.

There will be a grace period until the start of the next funded period to enable you to seek employment. If your circumstances change during the grace period, you can apply again and continue to use your entitlement.

Find a childcare provider

Not all providers offer the entitlement. You may need to contact them to confirm.

Split your hours

You can split your hours over more than 1 provider, but at no more than 2 sites in a day. To meet your childcare needs, you can use 2 providers. The providers must be willing to work together.

You can use your childcare entitlement between 6am and 8pm for a maximum of 10 hours a day.

Providers will have their own pattern of delivery (hours and days) for the entitlement. You can see this information at your childcare setting.

Stretched funding

Some providers may offer a stretched pattern of hours. This means you receive fewer hours each week but for more weeks of the year. For more information, discuss this with your  chosen provider.

If a provider is not open for the full 38 weeks per year, you cannot claim more than 15 hours each week over fewer weeks of the year. If you choose a provider that is open for fewer than 38 weeks of the year you will not be able to receive your full entitlement.

If the childcare provider has offered you a place, you will need to provide:

  • your child's birth certificate
  • the National Insurance number of either parent who made the application
  • your eligibility code (the 11-digit number supplied by HMRC).

The provider will then verify and validate the code. They will ask you to complete a Parental Declaration Form. You will then agree a start date for your child to begin accessing your childcare place.

Headcount week

Your child must attend the Kent headcount week to claim Working Parent Entitlement for the term.

Your child's attendance during headcount week determines the funded hours. You cannot increase the hours until the next term. To find out when the headcount week is, talk to your childcare provider.

Your child cannot start a new childcare place at a provider during a grace period. This includes when a parent:

  • has fallen into their grace period before your child has started their childcare place and,
  • seeks to move your child to a different provider, when you have already fallen into their grace period.

Transfer funding during headcount week

Providers are under no obligation to transfer funding. If you switch providers after the headcount week, you might need to pay the new one until the start of the next term.

An appeals process is in place for exceptional circumstances such as a move, due to adoption or domestic violence.

Help is available for children with SEND, and their families. This is known as the local offer.

This includes education, health and social care support for children, including those who do not have education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Visit our SEND information hub.

If you need further information, contact our Kent Children and Families Information Service.

See information on making an appeal or complaint about free early education and childcare.