Free Early Learning and Childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds
15 hours free childcare
All families with 3 and 4-year-old children can get 15 hours of free childcare or early education a week, 38 weeks per year. This can be administered over three terms or stretched out to suit your needs.
30 hours free childcare
Working families with 3 and 4-year-old children can get an extra 15 hours a week of free childcare, so 30 hours in total. This can be administered over three terms or stretched out to suit your needs. You won't be eligible for this extended entitlement if you or your partner earn £100,000 or more.
Check eligibility via Childcare Choices
How to get it
Your child’s nursery must be registered with Ofsted and included on the local authority list of early education providers to receive the free sessions. These include school nurseries, day nurseries, childminders and playgroups.
To find out if your child’s nursery is on the list of early education providers, please contact Liverpool Childcare and Family Information Service (CAFIS) on freephone 0800 085 2022 or ask a member of staff at your child’s nursery.
Additional funding available to your provider
Further streams of funding are available for some groups of children.
This additional funding is paid to the provider and will help your child to:
• Benefit from extra resources and equipment suited to their needs
• Enjoy a range of new play, learning and activity experiences
• Be prepared for starting school
Disability Access Fund (DAF) - for children in receipt of DLA
Early Years Pupil Premium - for disadvantaged families. To check if you are eligible, go to www.gov.uk/get-extra-early-years-funding for more information
Deprivation Supplement - Calculated based on areas of deprivation within the city
EAL supplement - To recognise differences in attainment in the early years foundation stage between children whose first language is English, and those who have English as an additional language (EAL).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: When does my child become eligible?
- If your child is born between 1 April and 31 August, they will be eligible for a funded place from 1 September following their third birthday, until statutory school age and the term after the 30 code is issued
- If your child is born between 1 September and 31 December, they will be eligible for a funded place from 1 January following their third birthday, until statutory school age.
- If your child is born between 1 January and 31 March, they will be eligible for a funded place from 1 April following their third birthday, until statutory school age.
Q: What type of childcare can I use?
A: Your preferred childcare setting must be registered with Ofsted must also be included on the local authority list of Early Years Funding providers to receive funding for the child.
To find out if a childcare setting is on the local authority provider list, please use our Family Information and SEND Directory Childcare Search. These include school nurseries, private day nurseries, childminders, and playgroups.
Q: My child is going to turn three next year. How soon can I access the 30-hours?
A: Your child will be eligible for the 30 hours offer from the term after they turn three, or the term after you receive your eligibility code – whichever is later.
For example, if your child turns three on 25 March, and you apply for the 30-hours on 27 March, your child will be eligible for a place from 1 April (i.e. the start of the spring term). However, if your child turns three on 25 March but you don’t apply for the 30 hours until 5 April, your child won’t be eligible for a place until 1 September (i.e. the start of the autumn term).
Q: If I’m not eligible for the 30-hour offer, can I still get my 15 hours?
A: Yes. The 15-hour offer is still universal so if you’re not eligible for a 30-hour place, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour offer.
Q: What happens if I become ineligible for the offer e.g. because I lose my job?
A: If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, your child’s 30-hour place will continue to be funded for a ‘grace period’. You should discuss this with your provider if and when you lose eligibility. The table below outlines how long the grace period will last, depending on when you become ineligible for the offer.
Once the grace period has expired, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour funded childcare offer. If you have been taking up the 30 hours at two providers, you can decide which provider you want to continue taking up your 15 hour places from.
Q: I want to access the 30-hours but my provider is asking for a deposit. Can they do this?
A: Yes. Under government rules, providers can charge a refundable deposit for funded places for two-, three- and four-year-olds.