Funded childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds

All children are entitled to attend a funded part-time early education place from the term after their third birthday until they start school. Childcare can be offered by private, independent and voluntary providers as well as childminders and schools.

30 hours childcare commenced in Buckinghamshire in September 2017. The scheme aims to help families with 3 and/or 4-year-olds to start back into work or to extend their working pattern. See 30 Hours Funded Childcare for further information.

Search our directory for 3 and 4-year-old funded providers. 

Applied for 30 hours childcare? Here's how to access your childcare account


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How many hours?

Your child is entitled to 570 hours of early education funded hours over an academic year.  

You can access a maximum of 15 hours per week over school term time (minimum of 38 weeks), or you may take a stretched offer. The stretched offer will give you the same total number of free hours per year, but spreads them over both the term time and some or all, of the school holidays.  Your childcare provider will tell you if you are taking a stretched or term time offer and what dates it covers. 

What if I use more than one childcare provider?

If you are using more than one childcare provider you'll need to make sure that they both know that your child is attending elsewhere too. Your child can also attend providers outside the county and still receive funding.

My child attends more than 15 hours a week

If your child attends for more than 15 hours a week, you'll need to pay your provider for the additional childcare hours. Your provider must notify you at the beginning of the term if your requirements exceed the funding limit.

If you use more than one provider, up to a maximum of two, each provider must agree the total number of hours per term they offering you.  It is really important that you do not receive more per term in total than your entitlement otherwise you will need to pay for the extra hours. 

The two providers must also offer the entitlement over the same amount of weeks.

Add the hours per week together if you are using more than one provider to make sure the total no more than 15 hours per week (fewer if delivered under a stretched offer).

Can I claim Working Tax Credit?

Don't forget that you may be eligible to claim Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.  To find out contact HMRC's general enquiries on 0345 300 3900 (lines open between 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).

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My child's date of birth My child can start
1 January to 31 March (inclusive) Summer Term (from 1 April)
1 April to 31 August (inclusive) Autumn Term (from 1 September)
1 September to 31 December (inclusive)  Spring Term (from 1 January)
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Free early education sessions offered by a provider must be between 2.5 hours and 10 hours per day between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

If your child is attending a maintained nursery school, reception or nursery class within a school for 15 hours this is your total free entitlement, you must not make a claim from another provider.

If your child is attending at a school for less than 15 hours, you can take the left over hours at a second provider.

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Once you have decided on your childcare provider and agreed the hours your child will attend, the provider will ask you to complete a Parent Declaration Form and a Parent Provider Agreement.

It is really important to fill out The Parent Declaration because it records your child’s eligibility to a free place. The Parent Provider Agreement sets out the days and hours you have agreed your child will be attending.  Buckinghamshire County Council will then pay your provider for the hours your child attends.

We don't recommend moving your child during the academic term as it is in a child’s best interest to be settled with a provider, and is very unlikely funding will transfer to a new provider before the start of the next term. 

If it is an exceptional circumstance such as moving house then funding may be transferred with agreement from Buckinghamshire County Council.

If you do wish to move your child, then you need to do this before the start of term and you'll need to give your current provider notice of your plans as soon as you can.

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The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on all providers to:

  • Make reasonable adjustments for disabled children
  • Not treat a disabled child less favourably

The Special Educational Need (SEN) Code of Practice 2014 has the following fundamental principles that providers in receipt of Government Early Education Funding must have regard to:

  • A child with special educational needs (SEN) should have their needs met
  • The special educational needs of children will normally be met in mainstream schools or settings
  • The views of the child should be sought and taken into account
  • Parents should have a vital role to play in supporting their child's education
  • Children with special educational needs should be offered full access to a broad, balanced and relevant education, including an appropriate curriculum for the Foundation Stage and the National Curriculum.

If your child has specific needs further support is available from our specialist Brokerage staff.

More information on choosing childcare for a child with a special educational need or disability (SEND).

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The early years pupil premium (EYPP) is additional funding for early years settings to improve the education they provide for disadvantaged 3 and 4 year-olds.  Settings will receive an additional 53 pence per hour of attendance for eligible children.

Eligibility for EYPP

3 and 4 year-olds in state-funded early education will attract EYPP funding if they meet at least 1 of the following criteria:

1) their family gets 1 of the following:

Income Support

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Universal Credit

and (from the 1 April 2018) have an earned net income (additional money you earn after tax not including your benefits) of no more than £7,400 per year

Tax credits

and have an annual gross income (before tax) of no more than £16,190 per year

The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

Support under Part 6 (VI) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit

and have an annual gross income (before tax) of no more than £16,190 per year   

2) they have been in local-authority care for 1 day or more in England or Wales
3) they have been adopted from care in England or Wales
4) they have left care under a special guardianship order or residence order in England or Wales

Children must receive funded early education in order to attract EYPP funding. They do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to in order to get EYPP.  Please speak to your early years provider for further information and details about how to apply.