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3 and 4-year-olds early education

3 and 4-year-olds: 30 hours early education

For some families their child(ren) will be eligible to receive an additional 570 hours of early education, if certain national criteria is met.

This is known as the extended entitlement and means a child could receive up to a maximum of 1140 hours of funded childcare.

To determine eligibility for these additional hours, a parent must apply and receive a unique code from HMRC via the Government’s Online Childcare Service.

Families can apply from when their child is 2 years and 9 months as recommended below:

  • Between 1 Sept to 31 Dec, they can get 30 hours from 1st Jan, and it is recommended to apply between 15 Oct to 30 Nov
  • Between 1 Jan to 31 Mar, they can get 30 hours from 1st Apr, and it is recommended to apply between 15 Jan to 28 Feb
  • Between 1 Apr to 31 Aug, they can get 30 hours from 1st Sept, and it is recommended to apply between 15 Jun to 31 Jul

Parents must obtain their eligibility code from HMRC before the start of the claim period that they wish their child to receive the extended offer of 30 hours per week.

Parents that receive a code after the start date will not be able to access the additional 15 hours until the following claim period. The code will be valid for 90 days and must be passed to the childcare provider to enable the hours to be claimed on their behalf from the local authority via the provider portal. The local authority will verify the code half termly, and the portal will automatically update with the current status of the code.

It is the responsibility of the parent to keep their unique code in date via the online childcare service and agree that their information can be shared to enable checks to take place.

When a code is no longer valid, a grace period will apply. During the grace period, funding should continue to be claimed on behalf of the parent/carer for their child(ren). If a parent/carer disagree with the eligibility outcome determined by HMRC, there is review and appeals process. This process is managed by HMRC.

Need some support to claim?

Parents and Carers
Families should talk to their childcare provider or HMRC if there has been technical issues when access their Tax-Free Childcare account. 

If you have a query about funding, you can:

  • email the Early Years Finance team at
  • call the Early Years Finance team on 01603 222300 – Option 2
  • attend training which is offered via Zoom sessions

Marketing materials

Leaflets and posters about early education are available. Contact Family Information via to find out more.

Other information