Walsall FIS offers up-to-date information,
advice and help on services for families in Walsall.

Free early years places for 3 and 4 year olds


Did you know that if you have a child who is 3 or will turn 3 in the near future, then they can have a free early years place at a variety of childcare settings across Walsall? This page should answer any questions that you have, but if you still have any please get in touch. If you are a childcare provider and you need further information about the Free Early Years Entitlement, please visit the Free Early Years Entitlement page.



What is a Free Early Years place?

Every child, regardless of their background or family circumstances, is entitled to a total of 570 hours per year of free early years education from the term after they turn 3.

This can be taken to fit in with school terms, which means 15 hours per week for 38 weeks. Or, if it suits you and your family, you can take it in different ways.


When can my child get a free place?

Your child can have their place from the term after they turn 3. The chart shows you the cut-off dates for each term:

If your child is born between:

They will get their free place:

1st January and 31st March Summer term (in April)
1st April and 31st August Autumn term (in September)
1st September and 31st December Spring term (in January)


Where can my child get their free place?

There are lots of different settings across Walsall, including day nurseries, playgroups, childminders and school nurseries. Please visit our Search for childcare in Walsall page to search for a setting that meets your needs.


How flexibly can my child take this place?

The government says the 15 hours should be given as flexibly as possible, but this is down to an individual setting to decide just how flexible they can be within the limits of their business. However, if you want them to, your child can take it in 1 of 2 ways:

  • 3 hours a day, spread over 5 days;
  • 5 hours a day, spread over 3 days.

Other than this you would need to discuss your needs with your chosen setting. However, there are restrictions to how flexibly your child can have their place:

  • A session must be not more than 10 hours;
  • Sessions have to take place between 06:00-20:00;
  • The full 15 hours can only be taken over a minimum of 2 days;
  • If your child only goes 1 day, the maximum number of hours they can get is 10;
  • You can spread the hours over more than 38 weeks by having less than 15 hours a week;
  • In a single day, your child cannot access the funding at more than 2 settings.


My child is going to a school nursery. How do they get their free place?

They already are. School nurseries offer the same free place as private settings. Your child can get a maximum of 15 hours a week during term time. If the school nursery offers less than 15 hours, you can get the extra hours at a private setting. Please contact us for more information.


So what do I have to pay?

Nothing, though if your child goes for more than their entitlement, or has any extra services, such as meals, you will have to pay for these. If you do not want your child to have these services, they do not have to. If you are unsure of any costs, please contact us.


How do I claim?

That's the best part - you don't have to 'claim' it. All you do is choose the setting you want that offers the place and they will automatically tell us about your child, including how many hours, etc, and then we pay them. All we ask you to do is fill in the Confirmation of Attendance Form that they will give you.


30 hours funding:

From September 2017, 30 hours childcare will be available for three and four year olds of working parents in England. The 30 hour offer doubles the existing 15 hours currently available to all three and four year olds and could save working families up to £5,000 a year.
Parents in England can apply for 30 hours childcare at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare, via the childcare service. To qualify, they must be in work and each earning at least £120 a week and not more than £100,000 per year.

To see if you are eligibile please visit the childcare choices website here