Free early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to free early education and childcare for 15 hours per week for 38 weeks a year. From September 2017, eligible children will also be entitled to an additional 15 hours a week providing their parents meet the qualifying criteria. Additional hours can be accessed at a fee and will depend on the individual setting.

To give parents and carers choice and flexibility, the universal 15 hours can be taken over a minimum of 2 days 7am - 7pm with no session being longer than 10 hours.

The extended 30 hour entitlement must be taken over 3 days or more, there are no minimum session requirements and a childcare provider is unable to attach conditions associated with access to the additional 15 hours.

Parents may also choose to take fewer hours per week over the full year rather than over 38 weeks, however this will depend on the individual settings' opening hours and session availability.

Who is this for?

Both the universal and extended entitlement starts from the school term following a child’s third birthday.

Entitlement
Month child was bornSchool term when free childcare can start
Between 1st January and 31st March From 1st April (Summer term)
Between 1st April and 31st August From 1st September (Autumn term)
Between 1st September and 31st December From 1st January (Spring term)

How do I find a place?

Early education and childcare takes place in maintained nurseries based at some primary schools, private preschools/nurseries and some childminders who are registered to receive nursery education grant funding.

The Family Information Service Directory has a list of all childcare services available in Wigan borough.

Parents and carers can search this list by area, school or nursery pick up to find your nearest childcare providers. 

Alternatively parents can contact the Family Information Service who will be able to provide a list of places best suited to you.

Once you know which childcare provider you are interested in you should contact them directly to visit and enrol your child.

Can I get further help with my childcare costs?

The government has developed a number of new ways to help parents with their childcare costs for children of all ages.

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