Free early years provision for three and four year olds

All three-and-four-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year - the universal entitlement.

This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year (the same weeks as school term time)  but it can be stretched out to include holiday periods (up to 52 of the year).

Some working families are entitled to an extended entitlement 30 hours - find out if you are eligible for 30 hours free childcare for working parents.

The free entitlement does not affect any means tested benefits.

You can start claiming free childcare after your child turns three. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is.

  • Children born between 1 April and 31 August will be eligible to a free place the beginning of term on or after 1 September.
  • Children born between 1 September and 31 December will be eligible to a free place the beginning of term on or after​ 1 January.
  • Children born between 1 January and 31 March will be eligible to a free place the beginning of term on or after​ 1 April.

You can no longer claim free childcare once your child starts reception class in a state school.

The free early education and childcare can be at:

  • all types of nurseries and nursery classes
  • playgroups / pre-school
  • childminders
  • day nursery

You can find  a list of all registered childcare providers on the Newcastle Support Directory.

How do I get my universal entitlement (15 hours)  place?

Chose a registered provider and they will ask you to complete a registration form or agreement. This will involve agreeing the hours your child will attend each week.

Using your free entitlement of 15 hours should be entirely free although many parents may choose to pay for additional hours or services as well.

Your provider may charge you for providing breakfast, lunch or snacks, but you do not need to buy additional hours and you should not be charged for any part of your free entitlement.

Anything else?

  • Remember to inform Tax Credits or Universal Credit of any reduction in your nursery fees
  • There may be additional financial support available if your child has a disability or special needs

Printable sheets and Website links for further information:

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