More information about free childcare

Using more than one childcare provider

Your child can attend a maximum of 2 sites in a single day. If your child is claiming their free hours at more than one childcare provider, you will need to talk to the providers and agree how the free hours will be shared between them.

You will need to record this on the Parent Declaration Forms you fill in with each provider.

Getting a place at a particular provider or for particular hours of attendance

The free entitlement does not offer a guarantee of a free place at any one childcare provider or for particular hours of attendance.

Childcare providers work hard to try and meet parents' needs but are not always able to accommodate the times or days that parents want.

In these circumstances the family information service can support you to find a childcare provider to meet your needs or you have the right to take up a free place at more than one provider or at more than one site.

Delaying your child’s start date in reception class

Parents are entitled to request that their child attend part-time sessions (mornings or afternoons) or defer their child’s entry until later in the same academic year (usually at the start of a school term and before the end of the academic year).

This may not be beyond the point they reach compulsory school age, which is the term following their fifth birthday.

What to do if you're unhappy with your child’s free place

If you have any queries about your child’s free place or the quality of care that your child receives, it is important you discuss these with your childcare provider first.

Issues concerning invoices are best dealt with by your provider as they should be able to give you a full breakdown of the amount due. It is a legal requirement to provide parents with invoices. They must also provide you with a list of their charges, including details of charges made for any time accessed in addition to the free entitlement.

If, after speaking to your childcare provider, you still feel that your child has been unable to access their free place or are concerned about the quality of care, we have a complaints procedure. This sets out our process for addressing your concerns. Read this process and fill in the complaints form.

Contact information

Family Information Service