Most families are entitled to some funded hours of childcare, when and how many will be dependent on where you live and the age of your child.
England: A total of 570 hours a year of funded childcare is available to all three and four year olds. This is 15 hours a week over 38 weeks each year, but you can choose to take it as fewer hours over more weeks. Click here for more information. Your two year old can get free childcare if you are claiming certain benefits (including some working benefits). Cared for children can also access these funded hours from the age of two. Find out more here.
Scotland: The 15 hour scheme is similar, but you get slightly more hours, ranging from 940 -1,140 hours a year. Some two year olds can get up to 1,140 hours per year if the parent is receiving certain benefits. Find out more about eligibility here or from your local authority’s website.
Wales: The 15 hour scheme is similar but works slightly differently too. You get 10 hours a week over 48 weeks in a school or funded nursery as part of what’s known as the Foundation Phase. In some areas in Wales, the Flying Start scheme offers some two and three-year-olds 2.5 hours per day free, five days a week over 39 weeks. Find out more about eligibility from the Welsh Government website.
Northern Ireland: Funded childcare is known as funded pre-school. You get slightly fewer hours - 475 per year, working out as 12.5 hours per week, which must be taken as 2.5 hours a day over five days a week during term time. It is regarded as Early Years education rather than childcare and can’t be provided by childminders. Find out more from nidirect.