All three and four year olds are entitled to receive 15 hours per week of free early years entitlement. You are entitled to claim the grant for 38 weeks per year during term time.

You can claim 15 hours over at least two days per week for a minimum of 2.5 hours and a maximum of 10 hours in one day.

If your child attends for the 15 hours free entitlement only, you should not be charged any fees.  However, providers may apply a small charge towards lunch or snacks. If your child attends more than the 15 hours per week you will be charged for the additional hours.

You can access the free entitlement at any:

  • nursery unit operated by a Wirral school or a nursery school.
  • certain childminders
  • pre-school or playgroup
  • private day nursery
  • independent school

You can split your entitlement between a maximum of two providers.

Claiming your child’s place

For information on registered childcare providers and availability in your area call 0800 0858 743. You should contact the provider of your choice as soon as possible in case they have a waiting list for places.

When you can claim 

Children become eligible from the term after their third birthday.

  • children born between 1 January and 31 March become eligible in April (Summer Term)
  • children born between 1 April and 31 August become eligible in September (Autumn Term)
  • children born between 1 September and 31 December become eligible in January (Spring Term)

The entitlement will last until your child is in full-time education.

Increase in funding entitlement to 30 hours

From September 2017 the government will be providing 30 hours free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds.

The additional 15 hours free entitlement on top of the existing universal provision of 15 hours is to support working families or families entering work who meet a government set criteria.

The additional 15 hours will be available to families where:

  • both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family)
  • each parent has a weekly minimum income equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage and
  • neither parent has an income of more than £100,000 per year

30 House Childcare for working Foster Carers

In September 2018 the government extended it’s offer of 30 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 & 4 year olds to include working Foster Carers.

30 hours childcare will be available to foster carers where:

  • access to 30 hours childcare is consistent with the child’s care plan
  • in single-parent foster families, the foster parent is in paid work outside of their fostering responsibilities
  • in dual parent foster families, both foster parents are in paid work outside of their fostering responsibilities
  • in families where only one partner is a foster parent, they must be in paid work outside of the fostering responsibilities and their partner must be in qualifying paid work for each they earn the equivalent of 16 hours at minimum/national living wage per week

To apply:

  • talk to your social worker and see if 30 hours is in the child’s care plan
  • email [email protected] and request a ‘Foster Carers 30 Hours Application Form’
  • return with evidence of your work

If the above conditions are met then you will be sent a code which will allow you to use your entitlement at any OFSTED registered childcare provider who offer the 30 hours extended provision. Foster carers will need to reconfirm their status every 3 months.

Privacy notice

  • information will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018
  • eligibility will be checked by with appropriate government departments (HMRC, DWP and Home Office)
  • any entitlement or change in entitlement status will be shared by the local authority with the school or setting the child attends

Find out more

Further information about the increase in funding entitlement

For more information email Wirral’s Early Childhood services at [email protected]

Tax-Free Childcare

Find out about the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme on the HMRC website

Childcare Choices

The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator which parents can use to compare all the childcare offers available to them and see what is the best offer. 

If you are having difficulty with the Childcare Choices website you can call the helpline on 0300 123 4097.