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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 the term they turn 3 in.  

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?

Please note although the actual term dates vary from year to year to accommodate national holidays e.g. Easter, term dates to determine eligibility remain constant.

If your child is born between:

They will get their free place:

1st January and 31st March The start of the term beginning or following 1st April
1st April and 31st August The start of the term beginning or following 1st September
1st September and 31st December The start of the term beginning or following 1st 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.

Please confirm all 30 hour codes before the deadline date for the term ahead to ensure you are eligible for funding as the Local Authority do not have any discretionary funding, please see the table below as a guide:



Recommended confirmation date

Deadline Date

Spring Term

1st December

31st December

Summer Term

1st March

31st March

Autumn Term

1st August

31st August


To support your child’s learning and development at home then please take a look at this lovely supporting document:

What-to-expect-in-the-EYFS-complete-FINAL-16.09-compressed.pdf (foundationyears.org.uk)

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