Help with childcare costs

This page tells you about some of the ways you can access sources of funding to help you with childcare.

Tax Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare

Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare are new government schemes to help parents with the cost of childcare. Both schemes can be applied for through a single online application. Find out more on the Government's Childcare Choices website.

Free play and learn for 2 year olds

Some two year olds may be entitled to free play and learn sessions. This can take place at a nursery, playgroup or with a childminder. If you are eligible, your child could receive 15 hours a week (term time only), or 11 hours a week (50 weeks a year).

Free early years places for 3 and 4 year olds

All three and four year olds in England are entitled to free, part-time early learning, care and development. It lasts for up to two years, until children reach statutory school age. Children can currently attend on a part-time basis for 15 hours a week, for 38 weeks of the year. Find out more on our free early years places for 3 and 4 year olds page.

Care to Learn

The Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs while you study. You must be aged under 20 years at the start of your course. It is available for publicly-funded courses in England, including courses in schools, sixth forms in schools and in sixth form colleges

Childcare grants

Full-time higher education students with children can apply for a childcare grant which helps towards childcare costs. Students must be eligible for student finance to apply

Child tax credits and working tax credits

Child tax credit is financial support from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to parents/carers with children, whether they are in or out of work.  Child tax credit is income assessed and you must be responsible for at least one child to apply.

Working Tax Credit could be available to parents/carers dependant on the number of hours per week worked, along with a low income. You don’t need to have children to qualify.

For more information, please refer to the HMRC guidance: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit: leaflet WTC2.

Childcare vouchers

The childcare vouchers scheme is now closed to new applciants. Directly contracted childcare (childcare your employer arranges with a childcare provider) is also closed to new applicants.

If you joined a childcare voucher scheme or a directly contracted childcare scheme on or before 4 October 2018, you can keep getting vouchers or directly contracted childcare as long as:

  • your wages were adjusted on or before 4 October 2018
  • you stay with the same employer and they continue to run the scheme
  • you do not take an unpaid career break of longer than a year

You can take up to £55 a week of your wages, which you do not pay tax or National Insurance on. How much you can take depends on the amount you earn and when you joined the scheme. You cannot continue to claim childcare vouchers or directly contracted childcare if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

Other details

Related links
Finding childcare
Money matters
Welfare Rights

Durham County Council's Families Information Service does not promote nor endorse the services advertised on this website. Anyone seeking to use/access such services does so at their own risk and may make all appropriate enquiries about fitness for purpose and suitability to meet their needs.
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