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 Check you're eligible

  2. Step 2 Check if you'll be better off

    Getting 30 hours free childcare might affect how much you get in tax credits.

    1. Check if you’ll be better off
  3. Step 3 Apply for 30 hours free childcare

    There's one application for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare. As part of your application, you will find out if you can get both.

    1. Apply online

    If you're eligible you'll get a childcare account and a code for 30 hours free childcare.

  4. Step 4 Give your code to your childcare provider

    Give the code in your childcare account to your provider along with:

    • your National Insurance number
    • your child's date of birth
  5. Step 5 Reconfirm your details every 3 months

    You must confirm your details are up to date every 3 months or your code will expire.

    1. Sign in to your childcare account to confirm your details