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Using brain science to help families thrive

Starting nursery, childcare or childminders: Guide to funding and choosing the right provision

Understanding nursery choices can be very confusing particularly if it’s your first experience of dealing with early childhood education and care.

Some children may be entitled to a free 15 hour nursery place or 15 hours of alternative childcare provision (i.e. childminder) when they are two-years-old.

Private nurseries

If you can afford to pay for a nursery place, there are number of local private nurseries that take children from very young ages and some offer 15 hours of free childcare.

Starting nursery
Starting nursery

15 hours free childcare for 2 year old children

If you have a two-year-old and are on a low household income, you may be entitled to receive 15 hours free childcare a week, 38 weeks of the year. Please see here all 2-year-old free childcare eligibility criteria.

Click here and apply online - all you need is your National Insurance number.

The benefits of early education
Research shows that children who attend nursery from a young age do better when they start school and throughout their whole education.

At nursery your child can:

  • Develop self-confidence
  • Improve their speaking, listening and language skills
  • Become more excited about learning, meeting new people and mixing with other children
  • Get ready for school

For more information please call the Family Information Service on 0845 313 3933 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm) or email


15 hours free childcare for 3 & 4 year old children

If you have a child aged three or four, they can get 15 hours a week of free childcare / early education regardless of your family’s income or residency status. Your child would be entitled to their free place starting from the new term after their third birthday.

The 15 hours a week is available for 38 weeks of the year (a total of 570 hours per year), that you may use flexibly with one or more childcare providers (depending on the provider). Some childcare providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours each week.

Free 15-hour childcare places are available at participating:

    • Nurseries and nursery classes
    • Playgroups and pre-schools
    • Childminders

You can search the Family Information Directory for your nearest childcare provider.

For more information contact the Family Information Service on 0845 313 3933 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm) or email

Starting nursery

30 hours free nursery education for 3 & 4 year old children with working parents

All three and four-year-old children living in the UK, regardless of family income or residency status, are entitled to 15 hours of free early education at nursery or an early years setting.

In addition, a new entitlement came into effect in September 2017 providing an extra free 15 hours a week (30-hours in total) for 38 weeks of the year (term-time only) for children that meet the eligibility criteria. 

To find out if you are eligible for the extra 15 hours visit

The extended hours support working parents
The aim is to help working parents with the costs of childcare, so they can return to work, continue to work or increase their working hours by reducing the financial burden of childcare.

30 hours free childcare is available at participating

  • School Nurseries
  • Full day care (e.g. nurseries)
  • Childminders
  • Session providers (e.g. playgroups)

For more information please check Family Information Directory  website

Starting nursery

Tax-Free Childcare

The Tax-Free Childcare offer is a new scheme that was launched by the Government from early 2017 alongside the additional 15 hours free childcare for working parents. This scheme is designed to help working families with their childcare costs.

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at


Need help?

We understand that the entire school admissions process can be a little daunting. Family Support staff are on hand to help with queries, accompany you on nursery visits and help with completing any paperwork. Pop into one of our family centres, email or phone 020 8753 6070.

Developing healthy brains

Every child needs loving, nurturing care from the adults around them if they are to develop the healthy brains they need to be able to thrive and this is even more important in the first few years of life. Choosing the right nursery is all part of getting it right for your child, as well supporting healthy brain development

Starting nursery
Starting nursery
Need to talk

Need to talk?

If you would like to talk to one of our local Family Support workers to see how we can help, pop into one of our family centres, email or phone 020 8753 6070.

We're here to help with tailored support for you and your family - just ask!

Houra from Masbro

Worried about a child?

If you are worried about a child or young person, please call our team on 020 8753 6600.

If you are worried that a child or young person is at immediate risk, please contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 500 or or call the police on 999

Remember Childline is always there for any young person online and on the phone anytime. If you are worried about yourself or a friend they are there for you.