West Berkshire Council

Free Childcare for Three and Four Year Olds

Free childcare through childminders, preschools, private nurseries or nurseries

All three and four year old children living in West Berkshire are entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare, for up to 38 weeks per year.

How does it work?

West Berkshire Council pay participating providers for the childcare you use - just get in touch with the providers of your choice to make arrangements.
Parents should never end up with any invoices or bills for accessing these services as long as they're within what we've agreed to pay for. 

Some rules apply to claiming free childcare hours:

  • you can only share your free hours between a maximum of two different providers
  • the childcare needs to be used at least two days a week
  • no single session should be shorter than two and a half hours, or longer than 10 hours

Please note: funding cannot be claimed for four year olds that are attending school in the September following their fourth birthday.

Eligibility Dates

Children become eligible for funding on the dates set out below:

Born between Eligible from (following third birthday)
1 April - 31 August 1 September* (Autumn Term)
1 September - 31 December1 January* (Spring Term)
1 January and 31 March1 April (Summer Term)

*Actual start dates will vary in line with West Berkshire School Term Dates - these will not necessarily start on the first day of the month.

If you would like our help in finding an Early Years Provider for your child, please visit our Family Information Service website, or contact us.

If you need further information, please take a look at our pdf icon frequently asked questions [144kb]  about Free Entitlement funding.

Extra funding is available for childcare providers to spend on your child's learning and development in some circumstances.

From September 2017 the free entitlement is due to increase to 30 hours per week for working parents. The Department for Education have published pdf icon Frequently Asked Questions [269kb] and pdf icon eligibility guidance [137kb] on the extended entitlement.

The 30 hours free childcare entitlement is being introduced alongside a new scheme to help working families with the cost of childcare called Tax Free Childcare. You can find out more about both schemes on the Childcare Choices website and register for emails telling you when Tax Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare are available and how you can apply.