Government Funded Childcare in 2024: How Does it Work?

Parents exploring their options when it comes to childcare are being given a helping hand in 2024, with the rollout of what the government is calling ‘free hours’.

Published on March 20, 2024

Each child who is deemed eligible under the listed criteria will be able to access 15 hours of additional funded childcare per week to support parents in returning to work and to help those who are struggling with the rising cost of childcare.

The way that this works varies depending on the age of your child, with the initial rollout in April 2024 applying to children over the age of 2. However, by September 2024, the scheme will be extended to cover children aged 9 months and older. The aim is to ensure that parents across the UK can afford to return to work and give their children the benefit of education and play in a safe and supportive setting.

Here’s how it works and what it could mean for you and your child.

What is the government-funded childcare scheme?

The government-funded childcare scheme has been designed to give families more support with childcare. An extension of the existing scheme, the 2024 rollout is designed to offer up to 30 hours of free childcare for children until age 5.

The hope is that by September 2025, all children under the age of 5 will be able to enjoy up to 30 hours of flexible childcare. This is provided that their parents meet the eligibility criteria.

What does the scheme mean for me?

The expanded childcare funding scheme has been staggered to enable childcare providers and nurseries to keep up with demand and ensure that they can cater to the increase in demand. The expectation is that more families will apply for nursery places using this funding, creating a heightened demand for providers across the country.

This means that if you want to secure a place for your child, it is even more important to do so efficiently and without hesitation.

It is also worth noting that your allowance of funded hours can be used flexibly, with up to 30 hours available every week for 38 weeks of the year. If you don’t use your full allocation every week, hours can be rolled over to cover a larger stretch of the year. Up to 52 weeks with fewer weekly hours claimed.

Am I eligible for funded childcare?

As mentioned above, eligibility depends on the age of your child and a few circumstances surrounding your income level.

To be granted the 15 hours of funded childcare by the government, you need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Your child must be over the age of 2 years to apply for funded nursery hours in April 2024; otherwise, you will need to wait until September 2024 when the scheme is set to be rolled out to children aged 9 months and older.
  2. If you’re a couple, you both need to be working
  3. Your income needs to be at least £8,760 per year, and less than £100,000 per year (after tax. These amounts need to reflect your take-home income)

Does My Ohana accept or offer funded places?

One thing that many parents are unsure about is which nurseries and childcare providers offer places to, or accept, children who are utilising this funding.

Here at My Ohana, we understand how difficult paying for a nursery can be which is why we accept different types of funding depending on your circumstances and our availability across our different nurseries.

We offer several spaces to funded children. We need you to provide us with the original authorisation letter from the Local Authority as well as your childcare code to ensure that we can redeem the right level of funding from the government.

Find out more about the different payment plans and funding acceptance on our website, in the FAQs section related to funding.

What to do to ensure you don’t miss funding opportunities

If you are currently exploring nursery places and want to ensure that you don’t miss the rollout of further funding, first in April and then again in September, you need to apply for a funded childcare code on the GOV.UK website. This is the code that you will pass on to your nursery or childcare provider so that they can redeem the funding and must be claimed before the end of March 2024 for April funding.

NOTE: This childcare eligibility will have to be reconfirmed regularly, every three months. It’s worth familiarising yourself with the process and the GOV.UK platform.

You can also reach out to your chosen nursery directly to find out more information from them about their operational structure and how they work with funded placements to facilitate fair and accessible childcare for all families and children.


We’ve been shortlisted for ‘Nursery Group Under 10 Settings’ in the National Day Nursery Awards 2022

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