15 and 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds

All three and four year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours free early education or childcare per year.

15 hours free childcare

This is also known as universal free hours. In Bristol it is offered in two ways:

  • 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year
  • 12 hours a week for 47.5 weeks of the year

You can claim from the term after your child’s third birthday until they reach compulsory school age.

If your child’s third birthday is between:

  • 1 April and 31 August you can claim from 1 September
  • 1 September and 31 December you can claim from 1 January
  • 1 January and 31 March you can claim from 1 April

30 hours free childcare

From September 2017 some working families can apply for an extra 570 hours free childcare per year. This is also known as extended free hours.

If you’re eligible for the extra hours you will need to apply for a code to give to your childcare provider to reserve your place. 

Find a 30 hours free childcare provider

How to apply

You don’t have to apply for the universal 15 hours free childcare funding yourself. When your child has a place the provider will apply on your behalf.

To find out if you are eligible for the extended 30 hours free childcare you need to apply online by visiting the Childcare Choices website.

For both types of free chidcare, you will be asked to complete a parental declaration form by your childcare provider.

You cannot claim more than 10 free hours in a day or make a claim with more than two childcare providers on the same day. For more information read the Frequently Asked Questions (pdf, 104k) (opens new window) .