Early years childcare – what funding is available?

Service families may be entitled to claim free early years childcare across the UK and overseas but what is available differs depending on your location and circumstances.


Three- and four-year-olds

  • All families can claim 15 hours’ free childcare for 38 weeks of the year. Some providers will allow you to stretch the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours a week.
  • If you and your partner (if applicable) are in paid employment, you may be eligible for an additional 15 hours of funded childcare, taking the hours up to 30 in total.


  • If you’re in receipt of certain benefits or your child has special educational needs or a disability, you may be able to claim 15 hours for two-year-olds for 38 weeks.

For more info, see the Childcare Choices website.


  • All families can access 1,140 hours a year (30 hours a week if taken in term time) for their three and four year olds.

For more info, see the Early education and care pages on the gov.scot website.


  • Families could claim up to 30 hours of free childcare, depending on their circumstances.

For more info, see the Childcare for 3 and 4 year olds pages on the gov.wales website.

Northern Ireland


You could get between 15 and 30 hours’ of funded childcare in MOD schools and settings, depending on your circumstances. Where there are no MOD schools/settings accessible, a refund of fees paid can be applied for by means of Overseas Nursery Authority.

For more info, see Childcare for service children on the gov.uk website.


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