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Free early education and childcare

All 3 and 4 year olds and some 2 year olds are entitled to a certain amount of free early education and childcare. Find out if your child is eligible.

Free childcare places

Free childcare is also called FEEE (Free Early Educational Entitlement).

All 3 and 4 year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of FEEE. This is usually taken as a maximum of 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year, in line with Leicestershire’s school term dates, but can be taken as fewer hours over more weeks. Some 2 year olds are also eligible.

30 hours free childcare - check if you’re eligible

From April 2017 Leicestershire will be trialling an increase of free childcare to 30 hours per week (for up to 38 weeks per year, a total of 1140 hours).

This increase will only be available to working families who meet the following criteria:

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family);
  • Both parents are working, includes circumstances where;
    • One or both parents are temporarily away from the workplace on parental, adoption, maternity or paternity leave;
    • One or both parents are temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay;
    • One parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring; or
    • One parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits.
  • Each parent has a weekly minimum income equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage; Parents do not necessarily need to actually work 16 hours per week, but rather their earnings must reflect at least 16 hours of work at national minimum wage (£111.20) or national living wage £120.00), and;
  • Neither parent has an income of more than £100,000 per year.

The definition of ‘working’ will include employed and self-employed persons and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria. Many parents have irregular working patterns and the government have designed the extended entitlement to be flexible enough to accommodate these. 

Parents who are studying, and grandparents or other family members with parental responsibility for a child aged 3 or 4, will be eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the above criteria.


To check if eligible for the 30 hours in the autumn term, parents need to visit

Using your 30 hours

If eligible, parents can:

  • Use up to 30 hours
  • Split their hours over more than one provider
  • Use the 30 hours as part of a stretched offer, banking hours to use in the holiday periods if their provider offers this

Starting school

Your child may be offered a place in a nursery or reception class when they are 4 years old if you've applied for a school place.

Once a child is attending school, even on a part-time basis, you are no longer entitled to FEEE.

Your child doesn't have to attend school until they are compulsory school age (the term after their fifth birthday).

Further information about starting school is in the 'Your Guide to Primary Education'.

If you've got a concern

If you are worried about the way in which your FEEE is being managed, write to:

Early Learning and Childcare Service (0-5 Learning Service)
Leicestershire County Council
Room 100a
County Hall

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