Guide

Help paying for childcare

Last updated: 3 January 2018

Funded early learning and childcare

Funded early learning and childcare is free to parents, but funded by the Scottish Government.

You can get up to 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year (around 16 hours a week in term time) if your child is 3 or 4 years old. You may be able to get more funded hours in your area, or access them earlier as the Scottish Government is adding more funded hours.

Visit your local council's website to find out what is available in your area.

There are different funded childcare schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Children aged between 2 and 3 years old

You can also get funded early learning and childcare if your child has turned 2 and you get one of these benefits:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit and your income is less than £16,105
  • both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income is under £6,420
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit and your household take-home pay, is £610 a month or less
"Take-home pay" is the money your household receives from work after tax, National Insurance and any pension contributions have been taken off. Your award letter will tell you how much your take-home pay is for the claim period. This should be £610 or less.

Funded early learning and childcare is also available if your child is 2 or over and is or, since they turned 2, has been:

  • looked after by a local council
  • the subject of a kinship care order
  • the subject of a guardianship order
Once your child qualifies for early learning and childcare, they'll stay qualified. Even if you get a job, or their situation with a parent or carer changes. Your local council might also provide funded hours to people who do not meet these criteria, check with them to find out what happens in your area.

How to claim your funded early learning and childcare place

Visit your local council's website to find out how to claim your funded early learning and childcare place.

Help paying for childcare
Funded early learning and childcare