Finding Childcare in the UK: How Benefits Can Help


Choosing the right childcare is essential for your child’s growth and development. There are various childcare options in the UK, and financial assistance is available to help cover the costs.

This article will guide you through finding childcare, understanding the benefits like Universal Credit, and how to apply for 30 hours of free childcare.

Types of Childcare in the UK

Approved Childcare

Approved childcare refers to registered childcare providers that meet the government’s standards. These include nursery schools, registered childminders, and free early education and childcare providers.

Finding Childcare Providers

To find a suitable childcare provider, you can:

  • Search for nursery school places
  • Find registered childminders
  • Look for free early education and childcare

Nursery Schools

Nursery schools, also known as preschools or playgroups, provide early education and care for children between 2 and 5 years old.

They offer structured learning through play and activities in a group setting, preparing children for primary school.

Find your local nursery school.

Benefits of Nursery Schools

Nursery schools offer several advantages, including:

  • Structured learning environment
  • Development of social skills
  • Qualified staff with experience in early childhood education
  • Opportunities for parental Involvement

Registered Childminders

What are Registered Childminders?

Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals providing care and education for children in their homes. 

They usually look after small groups of children, often with a wide age range, and must be registered with Ofsted in England, Care Inspectorate in Scotland, or the equivalent regulatory body in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Find a local registered child minder.

Benefits of Registered Childminders

Registered childminders offer various benefits, such as:

  • A home-like environment
  • More flexible hours compared to nursery schools
  • Personalized care tailored to each child’s needs
  • Opportunities for mixed-age interactions

Free Early Education and Childcare Providers

What are Free Early Education and Childcare Providers?

Free early education and childcare providers offer government-funded childcare programs for eligible children. 

These programs can be available through various settings, including nursery schools, registered childminders, and daycare centers.

Local early eduction childcare centres

Benefits of Free Early Education and Childcare Providers

Free early education and childcare providers offer several advantages, including:

  • Access to quality early education at no cost for eligible families
  • A range of settings and providers to choose from
  • Opportunities to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills
  • Support for working parents

Financial Assistance for Childcare Costs

Benefits and Schemes

You can receive help with childcare costs for children under 18 through:

Free Childcare for 2 to 4-Year-Olds

In the UK, you may be eligible for:

  • Free education and childcare for 2-year-olds
  • 15 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds
  • 30 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds

Updating Your Information and Checking Eligibility

Reporting Changes in Circumstances

It’s crucial to inform the government if your circumstances change and you receive tax credits or Universal Credits.

Confirming Your Details

If you’re receiving 30 hours of free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare, confirm if your details are up to date every three months by signing into your childcare account.

Childcare Options When Your Child Starts School

Primary School and Wraparound Care

Your child starts primary school in September after they turn four. Apply for a primary school place and explore before and after school and holiday clubs.

Using Benefits for Wraparound Care

You can use benefits like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for wraparound care, after-school clubs, or other activities.

Finding the right childcare in the UK is crucial for your child’s well-being. Use financial assistance like Universal Credit and 30 hours of free childcare to lessen the financial burden. 

Stay informed and up-to-date with your eligibility and childcare options as your child grows.


Content Updated: 03/05/2023