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  1. 1. Overview
  2. 2. 2-year-olds (15 hours)
  3. 3. 3 and 4-year-olds (15 hours)
  4. 4. 3 to 4-year-olds (30 hours)
  5. 5. Tax-free childcare

3 to 4-year-olds (30 hours)

Parents who are working can apply for an additional 30 hours/week (570 hours a year) of free childcare for children who are age 3 and 4 years old.

The parent (and their partner) must meet employment and income requirements, and the person applying will need to meet an immigration requirement.

Employment and income requirements

The parent (and their partner) needs to be working in order to qualify for 30 hours free childcare. 

A family may also qualify if a parent is in receipt of certain disability or carers benefits and their partner is working.

Each parent must expect to earn the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week over a period of 3 months. The amounts vary according to the worker's age. 

A family will not qualify for free childcare if one parent has an expected ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 in the current tax year. 

The employment and income requirements are covered in more detail in the government guidance about eligibility for 30 hours free childcare

Immigration requirement

The parent who applies will need to meet a residence requirement based on their immigration status. 

The residence requirement will be met when a parent has one of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • Settled or pre-settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • A pending EU Settlement Scheme application
  • Immigration permission that allows access to public funds, such as indefinite leave to remain or refugee leave

A parent who has leave to remain with a 'No Recourse to Public Funds' (NRPF) condition cannot apply, although can be included in an application made by a partner who meets the residence requirement. Government funded childcare is not a 'public fund' for immigration purposes. 

If a parent is applying with their partner, the person who is applying must meet the residence requirement and both will need to satisfy the requirements relating to employment and income. For example, if one parent is a British citizen and their partner has leave to remain with NRPF, the British parent can make the application.

In a sole parent household, the family will be unable to access 30 hours childcare if the parent has leave to remain with NRPF.

If the parent and their partner both have leave to remain with NRPF, the family will be unable to access 30 hours childcare.

More information and how to apply 

Families can refer to the government information about 30 hours free childcare and information about how to apply for childcare.