Funded childcare & nursery funding in England

Discover everything you need to know about funded childcare as a provider here.

In England, eligible children have access to 30 hours per week in term time or 1140 hours per year for three and four-year-olds of working parents. 

From April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds were able to access 15 hours of funded childcare. From September 2024, 15 hours of funded childcare will be extended to all children from the age of nine months. Lastly, from September 2025, working parents of children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours funded childcare per week.

Downloads: Guides to funded childcare for September 2024 places

For parents already claiming Tax-Free Childcare, share this guide to funded childcare:

For parents not already claiming Tax-Free Childcare, share this guide to funded childcare:

Nursery guide to supporting parents with funded childcare:


Childcare expansion September 2024 places for under twos

From 12 May 2024, parents of children who turn nine-months-old by 31 August can apply for a 15-hour funded childcare place to start in September. The DfE recommends that parents apply between 12 May and the end of the summer term which is around the end of July 2024. 

This is the first time that children under the age of two will be able to take up funded nursery places.  

Some parents will be returning to work after parental leave. The Government has extended the period they can apply for Tax-Free Childcare account to get a funded childcare place. If they have a work start date by 30 September 2024, they can apply for a September place for their child from 12 May 2024.  

Parents who are new to the TFC system who apply for their place before 1 June will need to reconfirm their eligibility and their code before the offer starts in September. 

Eligible parents who already have an existing TFC account for their child will be able to apply for a code at their next reconfirmation window. Parents who had to reconfirm their eligibility before 12 May and whose next application window opens on 9 June or later will receive a temporary code from HMRC by 24 May starting with 11. This temporary code can be used to secure a place until their official digital code is confirmed starting with 50. 

 The DfE has published some FAQs re applying for a September place here.

Does my nursery have to provide funded hours?

Nurseries do not have to provide funded hours.

How does it work in England? 

When parents make payments to you via their childcare account, the payment will appear alongside their unique child reference number in your bank account. 

Parents are given these reference numbers in their welcome packs when they sign up to Tax-Free Childcare. 

These reference numbers are made up of the first letter of the child’s first name, the first three letters of their surname, a five digit number and ‘TFC’. e.g. JSMI12345TFC. 

Parents are encouraged to pass these numbers on to you, to support you in matching payments to individual children. 

What if I am having issues reconciling payments? 

Childcare providers who are having difficulties reconciling payments from parents can now send HMRC a form listing the payments they need to identify.

The form is hosted on the provider pages of the Childcare Choices website here.

Childcare providers should return the form to [email protected] and will receive a call back as soon as possible.

How can I explain 30 hours to parents?

Share a link to our 30 hours ‘free’ childcare FAQs for parents here. Or direct parents to the Childcare Choices website here. Childcare Choices has also published a parent communications toolkit, access it here

What is NDNA doing to support nurseries?

NDNA is working hard to lobby the Government for improvements in qualifications and campaigning to raise the profile of early years workforce – Visit our First Five Years Count campaign. NDNA is trying to get answers to crucial questions on eligibility and expected take up of places.

FAQs for Childcare expansion from 2023

The DfE has produced FAQs for providers and parents which can be downloaded here. Please note, NDNA still has questions which we feel this FAQ doesn’t fully answer.

Schools Forums and Designated Schools Grants (DSG)

Each local authority has a Schools Forum which looks at specific issues to do with schools, education and early years. They look at budgets, consultations and proposals. They also make decisions regarding funding that local authorities receive from central government for education through the Designated Schools Grant (DSG). There is no set size for a Schools Forum but all aspects of education must be represented. Representatives are voted in and each LA is responsible for providing terms of office. Non-school members (including early years representatives) may make up no more than a third of the total membership.

Find out more details about Schools Forums on the website.

England early years funding resources

In England, the current allocation is 15 hours for all three and four year olds rising to 30 hours per week in term time for working families.

Additional information/toolkits:

    • NDNA’s latest research on council underspends against three & four year-old funding is available here

    • Government guidance for local authorities in England.

From 1 October 2024, parents will be able to apply from the following dates:  

Date of starting or returning to workWhen can parents apply fromWhen parents can use entitlements from
1 October to 31 January1 September to 31 December1 January
1 February to 30 April1 January to 31 March1 April
1 May to 31 September1 April to 31 August1 September

Downloads: Childcare funding letter templates to parents and MPs

It’s not always easy to explain to parents or the wider public about the challenges that early years providers are facing, especially regarding delivery of the funded childcare places.

NDNA has put together a template letter – which you can adapt and update depending on your own circumstances – for you to send to parents. This explains why nurseries must ask parents to pay charges for funded places and why they are also having to put up fees to parents. You can use the letter in full or choose sections that back up your own points. We have included national background information and statistics that should support your main arguments.

We have also written a template letter to send to your local MP(s). This letter sets out the urgent issues facing the sector such as funding and recruitment, but would be most effective if you add in local information, how this impacts on your own setting.

NDNA Underspends Report 2023 – Millions used for other purposes or taken back by DfE

Read the latest updates from the NDNA Underspends Report.

Local authorities are continuing to use £millions of early years funding to offset other deficits or put in reserves, according to an investigation by National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

Early years funding reporting