30 hours free childcare entitlement for working parents

Currently, all 3 to 4 year olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education per week. This is a universal entitlement, for all children.

From September 2017, all 3 to 4 year olds of working parents will be eligible for an additional 15 hours early education per week. In some local authority (LA) areas, this new entitlement was rolled out from September 2016. The 30 hours entitlement is intended to support working parents with childcare costs and enable them to return to work, or work additional hours.

This and more information on the entitlement is set out in a Department for Education (DfE) policy statement, pages 4 &8;



The additional 15 hours free childcare is only available for working parents of children aged 3 to 4 years old.

Page 8 of the DfE policy statement says that households will be eligible for the additional free entitlement where:
•Both parents are working, or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family (this includes self-employed parents and those on zero hours contracts)
•Each parent earns:
◦On average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage, and
◦Less than £100,000 per year

When at least one parent in a household has income of £100,000 or more, that family will not be eligible to take up the extra free hours. A DfE representative confirmed that this refers to each parent earning less than £100,000 per year rather than a combined income of less than £100,000 per year.

Special circumstances

Though two-parent families where one parent does not work (or neither works) will not usually be eligible for the extra 15 hours, there are some exceptions. These are likely to be where:
•Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
•Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily on statutory sick pay
•One parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring
•One parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

Pupils in Reception Class

GOV.UK explains that children in a full-time reception class in a state-funded school are not eligible for the extended entitlement.

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