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Bracknell Forest Local Directory

Free Early Years Education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

All 3 and 4 year olds are currently entitled to 15 hours of free, early education per week. This entitlement comes into effect from the term after a child’s 3rd birthday and can be used in a variety of settings including; preschools, day nurseries and registered childminders.

From September 2017 the government has announced an additional 15 hours (30 hours in total) will be available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

The additional funding will be made available to both employed and self-employed people. Parents do not necessarily need to actually work 16 hours a week, but rather, their earnings must reflect at least 16 hours of work at NMW or NLW, which is £107 a week at the current NMW rate. This includes those parents on zero contract hours who meet the criteria.

Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will usually not be eligible for these additional hours.

Parents must make sure their details are up to date by reconfirming eligibility every three months

For more information see HMRC's new website Childcare Choices which provides parents with information on paying for childcare, including the 30 hours free childcare and tax free childcare. 

The DfE also has an on-line calculator which estimates how much you could receive (from all sources) to help pay for childcare:


Some 2-year-olds in England may also be entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare.

To qualify for 2 year old funding, you must be getting one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit

Children are also entitled to a 2year old funded place if:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of special educational needs or an education health and care plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

If your child is eligible, you can start claiming after they turn 2. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is. See table below:

Child’s birthday

When you can claim

1 January to 31 March

the beginning of term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

the beginning of term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

the beginning of term on or after 1 January

For more information & to apply please visit Bracknell Forest's funding page here: 

If you have any queries please contact the Family Information Service on 01344 353133 or email  


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