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30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

If you work, you may be able to claim 30 hours free childcare for your 3 and 4 year olds. This is an additional 15 hours of childcare on top of the 15 hours that everyone receives.


Did you know that even if you have never used childcare before, or if your own nursery or childminder is closed, there are many across the county who are happy to take your children if you are a key worker? This can be a temporary move while your usual provider is closed.

As part of our commitment to helping key workers, we have made extra resources available and have a dedicated team to help you find childcare.

If you normally receive funding such as the free early education entitlement at 15 or 30 hours childcare costs, this stays with your usual provider, but we are also providing additional funding to any setting you transfer to so that any costs that funding usually covers are not passed on to you.

You can look for childcare providers at Families Information Service (FIS) or email the Early Years team who will explore your options with you.

Visit Childcare Choices to see if you are eligible and apply online.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible if:

  • You or your partner each earn (on average) at least £125 per week.
  • You or your partner are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities.

You are not eligible if:

  • Either you, or your partner, each earn £100,000 or more.
  • Your child does not usually live with you.
  • You're from a non European Economic Area (EEA) and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds.

For more information and to see if you are eligible, visit Childcare Choices.

When your child can start

If you qualify, your child will claim this from the same time as they would for 3/4 year old nursery places (15 hours).

Who provides this childcare

How to apply

Visit Childcare Choices to see if you are eligible and apply online.

When you apply you are given an 11 digit eligibility code. Take this code to your chosen childcare provider. You will also need to give them:

  • the National Insurance number of the person who registered online
  • your child's date of birth

Re-confirm that you are eligible

You must reconfirm that you are eligibile to receive 30 hours free childcare every three months from the date you applied - if you do not you will lose it. You must do this, even if your child hasn't started their 30 hours place

A reminder will be sent to you by HMRC by text and/or email.

Login to your childcare account ( to reconfirm your eligibility.

What isn't included

Certain items may not be included, for example:

  • meals
  • nappies
  • sun cream
  • additional hours
  • additional activities (such as trips).

Childcare providers may charge a fee for these. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider.

However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options (for example, providing your own food or nappies).

Contact us
Childcare places
03000 268 913
Our address is:
  • Childcare Places
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UJ
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