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.
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 December||1 January* (Spring Term)|
|1 January and 31 March||1 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 need further information, please take a look at our frequently asked questions [144kb] about Free Entitlement funding.
From September 2017 the free entitlement is due to increase to 30 hours per week for working parents. The Department for Education have published Frequently Asked Questions [269kb] and 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.