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Financial Help for Childcare in the UK: Parental Advice

By IntFormalities
Updated on November 29, 2023
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Becoming a parent brings immense joy along with new responsibilities, one of which is ensuring continuous care for your child. While full-time parenting is ideal for many, it’s not always feasible for those who need to return to work or manage other commitments. In the UK, a range of childcare support options are available to help ease this transition. This article explores the various forms of childcare aid, detailing the eligibility requirements and application process. Discover how you can access the necessary support to balance your work life and parenting responsibilities effectively.

How to get help with childcare
The British government ensures parents have enough options to choose from when they want to resume work or take courses in approved learning institutions.

What Childcare Options Are There?

Parents in the UK have several childcare options at their disposal. Parents may be interested in this provision if they want to pursue their careers or jump into higher education but cannot do that due to financial constraints that limit their movement away from their young ones.

The UK Government provides parents with financial assistance or free childcare services in and out of the home setting. This means you can get financial support to afford childcare services or potentially access free childcare services, either at a designated centre or at home. Take a look at the available help and childcare options below.

Financial Support

1. Tax Credit

This is government-funded money offered to low-income earners with children to help them keep up with living costs. Your household income, the number of children, and your child’s age determine how much you will receive. You can use this online tool to check how much you’re eligible for depending on your personal circumstances.

2. Tax-Free Child Care

When you sign up for tax-free child care, the government supports your initiative to pay a childminder. You get an extra £2 added to your account when you pay £8 into the account. The money is then used to offset your bill for daycare services in approved locations like step-by-step day nurseries and other daycare centres.

This is a perfect solution for parents who have to work but want to find a place to leave their children when at work. You get £500 every three months or £1,000 if you have special-needs children. You only need to search for an ‘approved daycare near me’ to get started.

Childcare can sometimes be government-funded but privately run. Parents are advised to pick the option that best suits their needs.

3. Universal Credit

It is a program designed to help unemployed UK citizens with monetary help to cater to living costs. The service is also available to low-income earners or self-employed individuals who struggle to make ends meet. If you qualify for universal credit, you can get up to £646 for each child every month or £1108 for two or more kids for the same period.

4. Help While You Study

If you want to further your studies but have children to look after, you can get financial help or free childcare hours every week to allow flexibility regarding your learning possibilities. Think about it as an equivalent of a childcare grant for individuals below 20 years old.

Care to Learn, for instance, is dedicated to providing young parents below 20 or at the start of their course in a publicly funded course in England. Young parents receive £160 if they live outside London or £175 when they reside in London. The money goes into paying for childcare costs for up to five days a week for the entire period their parents are in school. You can search for nurseries near you to see what options you have.

Learner support is another option that gives eligible applicants grants, loans, or money paid to childcare services such as an Ofsted-registered childcare provider. The grants and loans can cater to learning-related requirements such as accommodation, travel, material and equipment, and a computer or Wi-Fi to make your learning curve much easier.

Finally, there’s the Childcare Grant given to parents who want to pursue higher education full-time but don’t have the resources to pay for childcare services. Successful applicants receive 85% assistance with their children’s bills, or £183.75 for a child or £315.03 per week for two or more kids.

Free Childcare Hours

Aside from monetary help, parents can also gain from free childcare hours in multiple variations depending on their financial status and their child’s age. Two-year children could get free childcare, babysitting options, and government-funded services if they live with parents eligible for this help.

They can also get this support if they are taken care of by the local authority, have education and healthcare plans, receive disability allowances, or have left public care premises through adoption, special care guardianship, or a child arrangement order.

Three to four-year-old children can access 15-30 free hours of care per week if they are under an approved provider and are below the mandatory school-going age. A child gets a maximum of 570 hours per year, so the parent can plan their schedule accordingly to fit the childcare timings. You can check out what has to offer since they have multiple options to pick from.

Childcare vouchers

Parents who applied for this service on or before October 4, 2018, can claim childcare vouchers and directly contracted childcare services if they keep the same job, the employer keeps running the scheme, or they don’t take an unpaid career break longer than a year.

When To Start Searching for Childcare Options

When you know you may have to go to work or resume school, it is advisable to start looking for childcare services right away. This is to give you enough time to do some research and apply for your preferred option. You may struggle to get the place you want, so it’s best to have more than one option.

Planning well in advance will also help you avoid being left without a place for your child. You can apply for these services on the childcare and parenting website. The first step is to make sure you have an account to make this request.

Feel free to check other resources and direct links to other sites in the HM government webpage.

Requirements and Documentation Needed

The requirements vary depending on how old you are, your financial status, your child’s age, and the childcare services you need. When applying for childcare services, you will need to fulfil some requirements for the responsible team to approve your request and provide the assistance you need. In general, you must:

Cost And Processing Time

Applications for childcare services in the UK are free. However, you may incur postally and call fees if you apply via post or telephone. Each procedure takes varying times to complete, but it should take between ten days to one month to process this request. Know that it could take longer if childcare services require any further information to validate your request.

Get the Help You Need To Return To Work

The UK government ensures parents have enough options to choose from when they want to resume work or take courses in approved learning institutions. If you have a child and you need someone to look after them, you can consider one of the above-discussed options to see what works for you. Remember that your financial situation, the childcare service provider you choose, and the child’s age play a significant role in what you can get. For more information on how to get started with this procedure, visit

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