Free childcare for 2-4 year olds


All three and four year olds are entitled to a free part-time nursery education place regardless of how much their families earn.

The free places are for 15 hours a week, 38 weeks a year. If your childcare provider has space, you may be able to stretch your hours over more weeks, eg 11 hours over 48 weeks. Talk to them about this.

You can find these free nursery places at:

  • school nurseries;
  • children’s centres;
  • day nurseries and playgroups; and
  • childminders.

You do not have to do anything to get funding. The nursery or playgroup will ask you to sign a declaration/contract confirming that you intend to take a childcare place with them. The childcare setting will add you child's details to their census which they will then pass on to us to claim the funding.

If your child goes to more than one nursery class with a school, playgroup or childminder, you cannot claim more than the 570 hours per year childcare/education. Please tell your childcare provider if your child is attending in another setting and how many hours you intend to use with each setting (up to a maximum of 570 per year).

To qualify for the full 15 hours, your child must attend for at least two days a week.

Please note: 15 hour sessions for 3 - 4 year olds may include lunches, snacks, trips or extra classes, for example yoga or music, all of which will be chargeable. You may also want your child to attend for additional hours which will also be chargeable at the providers’ normal hourly rate. These additional costs must be presented clearly to you and agreed prior to your child starting at the setting.

When can my child start?

If your child was born between:

  • 1 January – 31 March funding will start in April, following your child’s third birthday
  • 1 April – 31 August funding will start in September, following your child’s third birthday
  • 1 September – 31 December funding will start in January, following your child’s third birthday

Benefits of childcare

Watch this video to hear how parents and carers feel that childcare has helped them and their child. 

Early childhood education is an excellent way to shape a child’s confidence and curiosity before attending school. It provides an opportunity to learn, play and make new friends.


Hackney Family Information Service (FIS)

020 8820 7000 option 6
This page was last modified on: 10 May 2023