Childcare you can get help paying for

You can get help paying for childcare if it’s provided by a:

  • registered childminder, playscheme, nursery or club
  • childminder with an Ofsted-registered childminding agency
  • registered school
  • home careworker working for a registered home care agency

This is known as ‘approved childcare’.

You can check if a childcare provider is approved or search for one in:

  • England through Ofsted
  • Wales through the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
  • Scotland through the Scottish Care Inspectorate
  • Northern Ireland through the local early years team register

Childcare at school

You can get help paying for childcare provided by a school.

If your child is over 5, the childcare must be outside school hours and on the school premises.

Childcare provided by relatives

If you live in England or Scotland

You can only get help paying for childcare by a relative (for example a grandparent) if:

  • they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home
  • you’re paying them using Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers

You cannot get help for childcare provided by your partner or paid for by the free early education and childcare scheme.

If you live in Northern Ireland

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if all of the following apply:

  • they’re in a childcare approval scheme in Northern Ireland
  • they care for your child outside your home
  • they care for at least one other child that is not related to you

If you live in Wales

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home.

Foster carers

Childcare provided by a foster carer in England only counts if they’re registered as a childcare provider.

You may be able to claim if a foster carer provides childcare in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

  1. Step 1 Find out if you can get help with childcare costs

  2. and Find where you can get childcare

  3. Step 2 Get help paying for childcare

    You can get help with childcare costs for children under 18. You might be able to apply for:

    You could also get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4. You might be able to apply for:

    You can only get childcare vouchers if you have already joined a scheme.

    1. Check the rules for childcare vouchers
  4. Step 3 Check what to do if your circumstances change

    Tell government straight away if your circumstances change and you're getting:

    If you're getting 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare you have to confirm if your details are up to date every 3 months.

    1. Sign into your childcare account to find out when you next have to check your details

    Your eligibility for support with childcare costs might also change.

    1. Check if your eligibility for help with childcare costs has changed
  5. Step 4 Check what to do when your child reaches school age

    Your child starts primary school the September after they turn 4.

    1. Apply for a primary school place
    2. Find before and after school and holiday clubs

    You might be able to use help like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare like wraparound care, after school clubs or other activities.