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Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

  • Children, young people and families

Free Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds

All 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for up to 15 hours of free early education (FEE) up to 38 weeks per year (term time only). These 15 hours can be taken as flexibly as your childcare provider is able to offer. Children become eligible the term after their third birthday.

When can my child access a free place?

The table below shows the dates of birth and the earliest time your child could take up their free place:

 A child born between:  Is eligible from:
1 January - 31 March  1 April - Summer Term
1 April - 31 August  1 September - Autumn Term
1 September - 31 December   1 January  - Spring Term

Where can my child access a free place?

All you need to do is choose an Ofsted registered childcare provider that offers the FEE and discuss with them how they deliver this service. Places can be taken at:

  • pre-schools/playgroups
  • day nurseries
  • children's centres (that offer childcare)
  • independent nursery schools
  • local authority nursery schools or nursery classes
  • registered childminders

Our childcare directory will indicate if they are participating in the FEE.

Once you have chosen a childcare provider, they will make a claim on your child's behalf at the start of each term. You will not receive any funding directly, all payments will be made directly to your childcare provider.

For more details on how the FEE 3 and 4 year old scheme operates view the free early education guide.

Free places for 'Rising Three's'

A 'Rising Three' is when a child turns 3 at some point during a school term. During this period, a child may still be eligible to access free places under the FEE2 scheme even if they have had their third birthday, as they are not yet eligible to claim the FEE 3 and 4 year old funding (which applies the term after a child turns three). If you have started your child in an Ofsted graded 'Good' or 'Outstanding' childcare provider and are paying for their place, please check our FEE2 funding criteria to see if you can get a place for free now by going to
Free Early Education for 2 year olds .

You can also contact FYi for further information or advice.


  • FYi
  • North London Business Park (NLBP), Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
  • Tel: 0800 389 8312
  • Opening hours
  • Families and Young People's Information Service.

    Enquiries: Contact us online

    We are open:
    9am - 5.15pm Monday to Thursday9am - 5pm on Fridays

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