30 hours of free childcare for three and four year-olds

At present all three and four year old children in Derbyshire are entitled to up to 15 hours a week free early education.

From September 2017 many working families will be able to get up to 30 hours of free childcare a week.

This extra free childcare, which is worth around £2,280 per year, aims to help working families by reducing the cost of childcare and will support more parents into work or to work more hours if they want to.

Eligibility for 30 hours free childcare

To be eligible families must meet the following criteria:

  • both parents must be working (or the sole parent in a single parent family)
  • each parent must have a weekly income equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum or living wage
  • neither parent has an income of more than £100,000 per year.

Parents do not necessarily need to actually work 16 hours a week, but earnings must be equal to 16 hours of work per week at the national minimum wage. This includes parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria.

View the current minimum wage rates (opens in a new window).

Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible. In some circumstances a family may be eligible where both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave or statutory sick pay or where one parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities or is disabled or incapacitated. These are both based on receipt of specific benefits.

Eligibility will be assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Check if you can get help with child care costs (opens in a new window). You can also find information on other schemes to support parents and carers with childcare.

Don't forget even if you are not entitled to the 30 hours extended entitlement your child will still be entitled to the universal 15 hours of free early education.

Childcare providers

We know that everyone's circumstances are different so we're working closely with childcare providers to encourage them wherever possible to offer the extra hours flexibly to meet the needs of working parents. You'll need to discuss your individual requirements with your chosen early years provider.

Not all providers will be able to offer the full 30 hours per week or the particular pattern of provision that you require. But you can split your entitlement across more than one provider as long as it is not over more than two sites in one day.

Where available, parents may choose to 'stretch' their hours. This means taking fewer than 30 hours per week but over more weeks per year, for example:

  • up to 30 hours per week across 38 weeks per year (term time offer)
  • up to 23hr 45min per week across 48 weeks per year (stretched offer)
  • up to 22hr 15min per week across 51 weeks of the year (stretched offer).

You can search for free early education places (opens in a new window). Or contact Call Derbyshire, email: contact.centre@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 533190.


You can check your eligibility for free childcare and apply online (opens in a new window).

You'll need to check eligibility before 31 December 2017 if you want to find a place for January 2018. If you are eligible, your child can take up a place from the start of the next full term after their third birthday.

If eligible you will be given a code which you must then take to your chosen early years provider who will validate the code with the local authority.

You can then discuss your childcare requirements with your childcare provider and book your child a place.

Every three months you will have to reconfirm the details you've entered on your application form to make sure you still qualify for free childcare. You'll be reminded by HMRC to do this.

If you need help to apply call the childcare service customer interaction centre tel: 0300 123 4097.

If you have any specific queries or comments please email: enquiries.30hours@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 539316 or 01629 532835.