As a parent or guardian you are your child’s most important carer, and it’s what you and your child do together at home that gives them the best start in life. Care from friends, grandparents and other relatives plays a vital role too.

However, choosing early learning and childcare outside the home, that’s right for your child, will help to prepare them for primary school and the challenges that life will bring.

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Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare

Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare are two separate government schemes, to help parents with the cost of childcare. You can apply for both schemes through one online application. Find out more about both of the schemes and apply using the GOV.UK childcare service.

Free early learning and childcare

All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to a certain amount of free early education and childcare per week. This is called the Early Years Entitlement. From September 2017, some children of working parents may be eligible for extra free early education and childcare. Find out more about the Early Years Entitlement.

The Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is additional government funding for childcare providers to improve the education they provide for disadvantaged 3 and 4-year-olds.

Some 2-year-olds are also entitled to free early education and childcare. This funding is based on your child’s circumstances or your family income. If your child is eligible, we will send you a Golden Ticket which you can use to access the free childcare. Find out more about Golden Tickets and what you should do if you think your child is eligible but you haven’t received one.

Why choose early learning and childcare?

  • It helps you to balance your work and family life, whether you’re in a job, studying for qualifications or training for new skills.
  • If you are a working mum or dad there are many options that can help you. Flexible working will make it easier to balance work and home commitments, and taking parental leave at key stages will give you time at home with your child.
  • You might be able to get additional financial help with childcare costs.
  • You can be confident your child will be safe because the Early Years Foundation Stage has safeguards to make sure every child is in a secure environment with people who care for them.
  • Ofsted also makes sure that standards about safety, welfare and learning are clearly set out.

The Family and Childcare Trust provide guidance about choosing and arranging childcare.

Our Childcare Brokerage service is available to parents and carers who have looked for suitable childcare without success, and parents and carers who find it difficult to negotiate the system themselves.