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Help with Childcare Costs

1. Childcare Providers 2. Types of Childcare Available 3. When Should You Look For Childcare?
4. Choosing Childcare 5. Help With Childcare Costs 6. Registered and Unregistered Childcare
7. Childcare outside Lincolnshire 8. Childcare for school aged children

5. Help with Childcare Costs

Paying for childcare can be expensive, but many parents and carers want or need to work.  Financial help and funding is available to support you and care for your children, depending on your situation.


Two Year Old Funding 

Free childcare is available for eligible two-year-olds, which entitles them to 15 hours' funding per week, term time only.  You can also have a stretched offer of 12 hours per week over 48 weeks per year with childcare providers who offer this funding.  Children can become eligible for the two Year Old Entitlement from the term after their 2nd birthday if they meet the criteria.  An application must be made to the Early Years Entitlement Team via a paper form or via telephone on 0800 195 1635.

More information on two year old funding


Three and Four Year Old Funding

Children who are 3 and 4 years old are entitled to free early education, which entitles them to 15 hours funding per week (570 hours per year).  You can also have a stretched offer of 12 hours per week over 48 weeks per year.  This can be accessed from the term after the child's 3rd birthday up until they reach compulsory school age (beginning of the term following their 5th birthday).  Children are entitled to access school reception classes from September after their 4th birthday.  Each early years providers offer funding in different ways, so it is advised you get in contact with early years providers to decide what is best for your child. 

More information on three and four year old funding


30 Hours Free Childcare

The government has committed to double the current entitlement of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours for children who are eligible.  This is to support working parents with the costs of childcare.  You could still be eligible if you're on maternity/paternity or adoption leaver or if you're unable to work because of a disability.  If you are eligible, you will be able to get 30 hours free childcare for 38 weeks of the year; some providers may let you "stretch" this.

More information or to check eligibility


Tax Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare has been introduced to offer working families 20% support towards qualifying childcare costs.  For every £8 you pay into your childcare online account, the government will pay £2.  The government will put a maximum of £500, or £1,000 if your child has a disability, every three months (£2,000 a year).

More information or to check eligibility


Tax Credits

If you are entitled to working tax credits and you and any partner are working at least 16 hours a week, you can claim back 70% of the cost  for childcare.  This could be up to £122.50 a week for one child or £210 for two or more.  Your entitlement to the childcare element for a disabled child ceases on the September after their 16th birthday (15th for non-disabled children).

More information on tax credits for child care


Universal Credit

If you're claiming universal credit, you can claim back up to 85% of eligible childcare costs for children under 16.  You could get up to £646 a month for one child.  Universal credit will be replacing existing benefits, including tax credits.

More information on universal credit


Childcare Vouchers and other employer schemes

Ask your employer if they offer a childcare voucher scheme.  You can take up to £55 a week from your wages as childcare vouchers, which you don’t pay tax or National Insurance on.  However, how much you can take depends on the amount you earn and when you join the scheme.  You can't use childcare vouchers and tax-free childcare at the same time.  Eventually, tax-free childcare will replace childcare vouchers.

More information on Childcare vouchers and other employer schemes


Care to Learn

If you're under 20 at the start of a public funded course (school, sixth form or college), you can get help with childcare costs whilst you study.  You can get up to £175 per child per week.  The childcare provider receives payment directly, and must be registered with Ofsted to qualify.  If you're aged 20 and over, you may be eligible for discretionary learner support to help pay for childcare.  You must be in further education, and how much you get depends on your circumstances. 

You can apply for a childcare grant if you're in full time higher education and have children under the age of 15, or 17 if they have special educational needs.  This grant does not need to be paid back and is paid on top of your student finance.

More Information on Care to Learn


For more information, go to the Family Benefits page or call the Family Information Service on 0800 195 1635 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm or email


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Choosing Childcare
Registered and Unregistered Childcare

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