Help with childcare costs

The schemes you can access depend on your child’s age and your personal circumstances.

3 and 4 year old childcare funding

If you have a 3 or 4 year old child:

  • you will be entitled to receive up to 15 hours of childcare a week, regardless of your financial circumstances and immigration status
  • and you and any partner are working, you may receive an additional 15 hours, totalling up to 30 hours

How childcare funding can help you and your child

These funding entitlements enable children to develop their early learning and childhood experiences and prepare them for school. It also enables their parents or caregivers to get back into work, education, or training.

When your child can start 

Your child will be able to access their funded place from the term after their third birthday.

Born on or in between

Eligible for funding from

1 January to 31 March

1 April

1 April to 31 August

1 September

1 September to 31 December

1 January

The funding will continue until your child reaches school age.

Please note, each term we set a ‘headcount date’ and children not registered and attending with their childcare provider by that date will not be able to claim the grant until the following term.

The childcare provider can advise you of the headcount date for the current or upcoming term.

The funding hours explained

Families who claim up to 15 hours a week can get this over 38 weeks in the year, up to a maximum of 570 hours a year. It is common for a place to be delivered over 3 days a week where each session lasts for 5 hours. Alternatively, over 5 days a week where each session lasts for 3 hours.

Families who are eligible for up to 30 hours a week can get this up to 38 weeks a year. This totals a maximum of 1,140 hours a year. 

The funding is flexible, and some providers may offer the ‘stretched entitlement’. This means a child can attend for less hours a week but across more weeks during the year, including some holidays.

The childcare provider you register your child with will discuss with you how you can access your funded hours.

What is not covered

Meals, consumables (such as nappies and cream), activities, trips, additional hours are not covered under the scheme, and your provider may charge for these.

Before your child starts their funded place, you will need to sign a contract, also known as a ‘Parental Declaration Form’ with your childcare provider. Here any charges should be made clear and agreed upon before you take up your funded place.

Where you can access a place

If you are a Hammersmith and Fulham resident:

  • you can access a place with Ofsted registered nurseries, preschools or childminders in the borough who have signed up with us to be part of scheme
  • but would like to access a place with an Ofsted registered childcare provider out of the borough, you will need to speak with them to see if this is possible and if so, the process you will need to follow. Some council’s and providers may prioritise places for families living in their own boroughs

If you are not a Hammersmith and Fulham resident:

  • but would like to access a childcare place in our borough, first speak with the childcare provider you are interested in to see if this is possible
  • please note, we will need to check your eligibility even if this has already been checked and confirmed by your own council. This is because Hammersmith and Fulham will pay for the place and so we need to carry out our own checks.

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria applies to working families only who wish to claim 30 hours, as all families can receive 15 hours.

For working families

Up to 30 hours childcare a week is available to working families where the following applies: 

  • you and any partner must each expect to earn £167 a week which is equivalent to 16 hours each a week on minimum wage
  • you and any partner cannot earn more than £100,000 each a year

If you, or any partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.

Make an application for 3 and 4 year old funding

For families wishing to apply for 15 hours only

You can apply through the childcare provider of your choice by getting in contact with them directly.

Your child will need to register with them, and you will need to show them a copy of your child’s birth certificate. The provider will also ask you to sign a Parental Declaration Form. The provider will then apply to us on your behalf for the funding.

For working families

Working families will need to apply through HMRC to obtain an eligibility code which they can then give to a childcare provider of their choice. The provider will then apply to us on your behalf for the funding.

Please note, each code has an 'end date' and so to keep your place you will need to renew your code every 3 months and inform your childcare provider. You should receive renewal reminders from HMRC.

Apply for free childcare for working families – GOV.UK

Additional schemes to help you with your childcare costs

In addition to claiming 15 hours funding, you may be able to access further schemes. 

For working families

For more information go to:

Students

If you are a student, you may be able to receive support with your childcare costs from:

  • the government
  • your school
  • your sixth form
  • your college
  • your university
  • your training provider

Go to help with childcare costs while you study.

Help identifying what you can get and when

To find out what childcare schemes you can access now, and in the future, you can use the eligibility checker on the Childcare Choices website

You will also be able sign up to receive updates on how and when to apply for support with your childcare costs. 

Contact details

If you have a question about applying for 15 hours if you are working, or to discuss a problem you may have with your eligibility code given by HMRC contact the Childcare service helpline – GOV.UK.

Or you can speak with our early years funding officer Felista Aloo at felista.aloo@lbhf.gov.uk

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