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Upcoming changes to childcare support 


Starting from April 2024, existing childcare support will be expanded in phases. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

The changes are being introduced gradually to make sure that providers can meet the needs of more families. This means that:

  • From April 2024, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support.

  • From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to eligible working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.

  • From September 2025, eligible working parents of children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.

Like the existing offer, depending on your provider, these hours can be used over 38 weeks of the year or up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week.

Sign up for more details about the upcoming expansion from April 2024, as well as how and when to register for support with childcare costs.

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How to check your eligibility?

  1. Check you are eligible - visit the Childcare Choices website.

  2. Check when you can apply - you need to apply the term before you want to take up the place.

  3. Apply for your childcare code - if eligible, you will get an online childcare account and a code for the funded hours.

  4. Send us the code - along with your national insurance number, identification and your child’s date of birth. We will check if your code is valid.

  5. Complete a parent declaration form.

  6. Start accessing funded hours - we will claim funding directly from the local authority.

  7. Reconfirm - you must confirm your details are up to date every 3 months or your code expires. You will receive a reminder.

When to apply & claim your code

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Do Early Learners offer totally free places?

Yes, although we prefer to call these ‘funded’, not ‘free’. All of our nurseries offer funded places where parents won’t need to pay for their child.  Funded places are very popular and subject to availability.

As parents don’t need to contribute towards these places, there may be an operational and financial impact on our nurseries - so to ensure the care we provide isn’t affected, and that our nurseries can run sustainably, we may need to limit the number available at each nursery.

Do I need to pay a deposit to secure a place?

Yes, a definite place will only be granted once the registration process is fully completed.  A refundable deposit is required to secure a new child’s place.  Failure to start will result in your deposit being lost.  Once your child has completed their first full month the deposit is refunded or you can use this against other additional services.  Simply send a notification clarifying your intentions and how you would like to use your credit.  

How many hours will my child be funded each day at Early Learners?

In short, it depends on the number of funded hours you have, and how often your child is in nursery. We don’t offer childcare by the hour, and instead apply each child’s funded hours in 5 ½ hour blocks.  In line with government guidance parents cannot use more than 10 hours of funding in one day.  We spread funding evenly across 52 weeks a year, that’s 11 hours per week. As a Early Learners parent, each month you’ll be sent a invoice, which shows your child’s funded hours as well as any chargeable non-funded sessions and/or days. For further information please view our funding options:

If I pay for extra sessions or days and don’t use them, can I be refunded?

Unfortunately not. We have to make sure we’re covering all our running and team costs to provide high quality care for every child at Early Learners. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Can I roll over my funded hours into the next term?

Sorry, due to restrictions by various local authorities we can’t roll over your hours, but we do stretch your child’s funding instead.  For example: If you’re eligible for 15 hours, by stretching, you can claim your child’s full funding allowance of up to 570 hours in just two visits each week stretched over a whole year.  If you’re claiming 30 hours, you can access up to 1140 hours in four visits per week, again all year round. Please speak to the manager at your child’s nursery to find out more.

Do your fees differ between nurseries?

We work hard to offer the same fantastic experience and services to Early Learners children at each nursery.  We keep our charges consistent across each location.

Do Early Learners allow packed lunches?

Yes, we only allow this on ‘funded only’ sessions.  Unfortunately on any ‘fee paying session’ we don’t allow packed lunches or snacks from home at our nurseries.  We encourage all of our families to have nursery meals.  We are conscious that many of the children in our care have allergies, and we need to minimise any potential risks.  Our menus are healthy, varied, and NHS approved, and we cater for special dietary requirements, cultural food choices, allergies, and fussy eaters, so every child can look forward to tasty food they love to eat.

For more FAQs, please visit: 


I’ve missed the deadline to apply for my Eligibility Code. Can my child still be funded?

Codes only provide funding in the term after you apply, so if you miss the deadline (on the last day of March, August and December), we will not be able to access the funded hours until next term. If your child is 3 or above then you’re still eligible for 15 hours, because it’s available to all children, regardless of whether parents are working.  HMRC might prompt you to reconfirm your code before the start of the new term, so please remember to do this to stay eligible. When you have your code, please send it to us via a notification.  We’ll check it’s valid with the local authority and confirm your child’s place.

What happens if my circumstances change? Can I switch from termly to stretched funding or vice versa?

To support our parents we provide forms which illustrate our funding options. You can then choose which one works best for you and your child. Once your child reaches funding age, you’ll also have a relationship with Childcare Choices, who submit the codes, and your local authority, whose policies can affect your funding claim. Some local authorities don’t allow switching, and because we take the time to really talk through your options before you make your choice, it’s unlikely you’ll want to anyway.  But, if you feel you need to, you can always speak to the manager at your child’s nursery.

Are you open on bank holidays or over Christmas and New Years?

All of our nurseries are closed on weekends and bank holidays.  However, yes we do operate over 52 weeks and are open between Christmas and New Year.

I’m planning to take my child on holiday. How will this affect my funded childcare?

Funding cannot be carried forward for any missed sessions. If you’re planning on being away for under two weeks, generally this is fine, but the more notice you can provide, the better. If it’s likely to be longer than this, talk to the team at your child’s nursery. Please use your Parentadmin app to communicate your child’s absenteeism.


What should I do if I need to change how long my child attends nursery?

We require one months’ notice, please refer to our terms and conditions.  Some changes may affect your child’s funding claim and depending on the hours involved or when the changes are asked for, they may not be allowed by your local authority until the start of a new term. 

Can I apply for government-funded childcare if I’m on parental leave?

Yes, you can.  If you’re applying for childcare for an older child, who is not the reason for your parental leave, you can continue to apply in the usual way.  For parents applying for free childcare for the child who is the reason for your parental leave, The government have extended the period where a parent starting a new job or returning to a job after parental leave, including maternity leave, can apply for government-funded childcare.  For further information please check the Childcare Choices website as information regularly is updated.


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