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  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. 15 hours/week for disadvantaged 2-year-olds
  3. 3. Universal offer for 3 and 4-year-olds
  4. 4. Working parents


Some early education and childcare is funded by the UK government for children in England.

Government-funded early education and childcare is not classed as a 'public fund' for immigration purposes, so can be accessed by a child regardless of their immigration status. However, some schemes have eligibility requirements relating to the immigration status of the parent(s) and so may not be available to all families. 

The following schemes are available to families regardless of their immigration status: 

  • 15 hours/week for disadvantaged 2-year-olds
  • 15 hours/week is provided universally for all 3 and 4-year-olds

The following schemes, which are available to working parents, have a residence requirement and are generally not available to families with no recourse to public funds:

  • 30 hours/week for 3 and 4-year-old children
  • 15 hours/week for 2-year-old children (from April 2024)
  • Tax-free childcare for children aged 11 and under (or disabled children aged 16 and under)

Full details of the eligibility requirements for each scheme are set out in later sections of this guide. 

The government also intends to introduce the following schemes for working parents:

  • 15 hours/week for children aged 9 months to 3 years (from September 2024)
  • 30 hours/week for children under the age of 5 (from September 2025)

Information about funded early education and childcare in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is provided by the respective governments: