Help with childcare costs

Find out what help you could get with your childcare costs.

30 hours of free childcare or early education for 38 weeks, available to eligible 3 and 4-year-olds

Not all 3 and 4-year-olds are eligible for this funding and parents must apply through Childcare Choices.

Deadline dates for applying for your 30 hours free childcare eligibility code:

31st December to access funding in the Spring Term
31st March to access funding in the Summer Term

31st August to access funding in the Autumn Term

To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months.

Please also ensure you reconfirm their eligibility code before the "Eligible to" date rather than the "Grace Period" date.

Children become eligible for the 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds from the term after their 3rd birthday.  

You can begin claiming the 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds from the term after your child's 3rd birthday and you have received a valid 30 hours code (Whichever is later).

Children born between: are eligible from:
1st Apr - 31st Aug Autumn Term (1st September to 31st December)
1st Sept - 31st Dec Spring Term (1st January to 31st March)
1st Jan - 31st Mar Summer Term (1st April to 31st August)

This funding is in addition to the 15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-years-olds and can be used at the same time at your chosen childcare provider.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage).

If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.

You can't get 30 hours free childcare if either you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more.

You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.

Child's Birthday Recommended time to apply
1st Apr - 31st Aug 15th June to 31st July
1st Sept - 31st Dec 15th October to 30th November
1st Jan - 31st Mar 15th January to 28th February
Watch this short video on how to apply

It's available at participating:

  • Full day care (e.g nurseries)
  • Schools
  • Childminders
  • Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
  • Children's Centres
  • After School Clubs
(Participating childcare providers have signed the Gloucestershire Local Provider Agreement, confirming they are offering the 30 hours free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds funding.)

There are some providers who will allow you to ‘stretch’ your hours over 50 weeks of the year, using fewer hours per week for example.  You have a total of 1140 hours per year, per child, to claim under the 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds funding.  But please discuss with your childcare provider whether you can use your hours flexibly outside of the 38 term time only weeks.

Other fees may apply at your chosen provider(s).  The 30 hours free childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds funding is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.

Parents must apply for a 30 hours code to begin claiming the 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds funding through the Childcare Choices website.

Apply now



Page updated: 29/03/2022 Page updated by: Rico Phillips

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