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30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

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If you are eligible, you can apply for 30 hours free childcare.

You will only get a code if your application is successful.

You can apply for 30 hours free childcare online:

Apply online for 30 hours free childcare

Already applied?

If you are already registered, have an eligible code and you want to keep getting your 30 hours free childcare, you will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

To do this you will need to log in to your childcare account:

Log in to your childcare account

The Government is committed to give working parents of three and four-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare per week during term time. 

All 3 and 4-year-olds are currently entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week (this is also extended to the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds). However, all working parents* of 3 and 4-year-olds are now entitled to an additional 15 free hours of childcare - raising the entitlement to 30 hours during term time.

The additional 15 hours of free childcare is available for families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a sole parent family), and each parent earns a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum or living wage, and earns less than £100,000 a year.

Am I eligible?

*Eligibility for this additional free entitlement will include households where:

  • both parents are working, or
  • one parent is working (in a sole parent family) earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week minimum on national minimum or living wage including those receiving tax credits or Universal Credit
  • one/both parent(s) is on leave (parental, maternal etc)
  • one/both parent(s) on statutory sick
  • one parent is employed and the other parent has either substantial caring responsibilities and/or disability

Please note:

  • families where one parent is not in paid employment (or neither parent works) will usually not be eligible for these additional hours
  • eligibility will be checked by HMRC and will be based on actual income earned
  • all 3 and 4-year-olds (and the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds) will remain entitled to 15 hours of free early education per week during term time, regardless of the employment status of their parents

More information:

  • You do not need to actually work 16 hours per week, but your earnings must equal at least 16 hours work at minimum wage / national living wage. This equates to a minimum income requirement for a parent/carer over the age of 25 of £115.20 a week, or for 21-24 year olds of £107.20 a week.
  • A parent/carer will be eligible if they expect (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months
  • For example, for a parent/carer who is on a zero-hours contract, they will qualify if on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage.
  • 'Parent' means a person who has parental responsibility for the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earning threshold.
  • Foster carers are only eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children (if they meet the criteria); they are not eligible for children that they foster.

Flexibility - Taking up the extended entitlement

If you are eligible for the extended entitlement, you can take up to 1140 hours free childcare across the year. You do not have to take the full amount. This can be taken term time only or 'stretched' across the year, as follows:

  • up to 30 hours per week across 38 weeks per year or (term time offer)
  • up to 23.75 hours per week across 48 weeks per year or (stretched offer)
  • up to 22.25 hours per week across 51 weeks of the year (stretched offer)

Please note, not all providers may be able to offer the stretched offer, the full 30 hours per week, or the particular pattern of provision that you need however, you can split your entitlement across more than one provider.

Depending on the provision you choose, you will be able to access your free childcare:

  • between 6am - 8pm
  • up to a maximum of 10 free hours per day, 30 hours per week
  • across a maximum of three providers, across a maximum of two sites per day

See a list of providers in South Tyneside currently offering 30 hours free childcare.


If you take more than 30 hours per week (or the equivalent of 1140 hours per year), there will be a charge from the provider for the additional hours.

If you are a parent or carer you will be required to check with your provider for details of these and any other additional charges such as meals, snacks or additional services.

Where can I access my child's place?

In South Tyneside, free entitlement places will be available in:

  • schools and academies with a nursery class
  • maintained nursery schools
  • pre-school
  • day nurseries
  • childminders

When can my child start?

Children can start from the term following their third birthday until they start full-time education, providing they stay eligible. This is usually in the September following their fourth birthday.

Contact the provider for their term start dates and to arrange settling-in sessions.

I live outside of South Tyneside - can my child attend a South Tyneside provision?

Any child can access their free entitlement in a South Tyneside provision. You do not need to be a South Tyneside resident.

How do I apply?

You can apply online for 30 hours free childcare.

To apply, you will need your details (and your partner's, if you have one), including your:

  • National Insurance number 
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you are self employed

Apply for 30 hours free childcare online

Once you have applied and you have received your code, you will need to re-confirm eligibility every three months to keep getting your 30 hours free childcare.

Re-confirm your eligibility

If your situation changes, you will receive notice within six weeks or half a term.

During this time, your child will keep the additional hours. Eligibility will be checked again at the end of this period, and if still not eligible, you will no longer receive the additional hours.

I'm having problems with my online application - what can I do?

If you are having problems with your online application or re-confirming your details please contact the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097. The helpline will then check if you are eligible and provide you with a temporary code if you qualify. Your code will begin with 11 and will be available throughout the year.

I am serving in the Armed Forces, how do I apply?

If you are serving in the Armed Forces and are currently posted outside of England, you will get your code manually.

Please note this does not apply to other families working outside of England.

You may contact providers before a new term starts to ty and get a place for your child for when you return.

Depending on your return date, some places may not be taken up until mid-way through a term and you will get the standard code checks by providers / the Council, and you must have an eligible code with a pre-term start date.

If you have any questions or need to ask for a manual application because you are serving  abroad, please contact the Childcare Service Helpline on 0300 123 4097.

For general parent queries, please contact HMRC on

Eligibility criteria

All eligibility criteria will be the same as regular applications. Please see eligibility criteria.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will provide HMRC with evidence of your posting before you are given a code.

I have missed out on a 30 hours place - what can I do?

If you have missed out on a 30 hours place through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for some monetary redress.

You must have made your application before the termly deadline and you must have paid out for childcare that would have otherwise been entitled to for free.

You must meet all other eligibility requirements such as the child's age and earnings threshold. 

If you think you meet these conditions, please call the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Do providers have to offer the extended hours?

Some providers will not be able to deliver the offer, perhaps due to restrictions on their premises. Others may choose to remain as sessional care.

Individual providers do not have to offer the full day and can select their opening hours to meet local need. They may wish to work in partnership with other providers to make a full day.

You are able to access the entitlement across three different providers at most.

You can view a list of providers offering 30 hours free childcare.

What can I do now to make sure my child gets a place?

You should contact individual providers to find out more about them and arrange visits. You will need to find out how to apply for a place with each individual provider. 

We can supply a list of providers currently offering free entitlement places

HMRC currently cannot check your eligibility for the extended entitlement. Based on the criteria listed above, you can give the provider an indication of whether you are likely to be eligible when applying for a place.

Some providers are waiting for further information before deciding to offer 30-hour places, so may not yet be in a position to guarantee you a place.

My child has special educational needs - will this affect my child's entitlement?

All families should have access to high quality, flexible childcare. The Government has consulted on changes to the funding arrangements.

We are waiting for guidelines designed to make sure that providers have the resources to support the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Providers offering 30 hours free childcare

Please see below to find out the providers who are offering 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

The list of providers has been grouped into the following Community Area Forums (CAF) areas:


East Shields

West Shields


Jarrow and Boldon

Some childminders will also be offering 30 hours of free childcare. For more information about which childminders, please contact our Family Information Service (FIS) on 0800 7834645 or email

Find out more

For more information on eligibility, entitlement and how to apply, see FAQs for parents.

For further information, please contact Family Information Service (FIS) on 0800 7834645 or email

Childcare service compensation

If you have been unable to complete your application or sign in to your childcare account for technical reasons, you may be able to claim compensation and get the government top-up as a one-off payment.

You may also be eligible for a refund for any costs caused by the service not working as it should, mistakes or reasonable delays.

For information on eligibility and how to make a claim, visit GOV.UK: Childcare Service compensation

Help paying for childcare

Tax-Free Childcare, Universal Credit or Tax Credits can be used with 15 hours free childcare or 30 hours free childcare.

Please speak to your childcare provider about any additional charges that may apply.

For more information please visit:

Childcare Choices

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  • Families Information Service
  • Town Hall and Civic Offices
    Westoe Road
    South Shields
    Tyne & Wear
    United Kingdom
    NE33 2RL

  • 0800 783 4645

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