Free early education and childcare

9 Month Old Funding

From September 2024, eligible working parents and carers of children aged 9 months to 23 months can access 15 hours funded early education and childcare (over 38 weeks a year) from the term after their child turns 9 months.

When can I apply for 15 hours free childcare funding

The application for working parents childcare eligibility code for 15 hours of funding can be made when your child is 23 weeks old.

The table below shows when you can apply:

When your child is 9 months old When you can get your hours from

When to apply 

1 September to 31 December 

Term starting on or after 1 January

The term before 1 January

1 January to 31 March

Term starting on or after 1 April

The term before 1 April

 1 April to 31 August

Term starting on or after 1 September

The term before 1 September

Application process for parents starting or returning to work 

Changes have been made to Childcare Regulations to extend the application window for those who are planning to start a new job or return to work from parental leave. This includes maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave or pay.  

In the past, parents were only able to apply for an eligibility code 31 days before the date they started new work or returned to work from parental leave. 

As part of the new changes, parents who plan to start or return to work on or before 31 September 2024 will be able to apply for a code from 12 May, alongside other parents who intend to take up a place in September.  

Parents in this situation will need to apply online as normal but will receive a letter in the post, enabling them to access their entitlement.

Parents who plan to start or return to work between 1 October 2024 and 31 January 2024 will be able to apply for a code from 1 September 2024 to use from 1 January 2025.  Apply here Childcare Choices website

In future terms, parents will be able to apply from the following dates in the table below:

Date of Starting or Returning to work     When can parents apply from When parents can use entitlements from
1 May to 31 September  1 April to 31 August  1 September 
1 October to 31 January  1 September to 31 December  1 January 
1 February to 30 April  1 January to 31 March 

1 April 


What you need to apply

You’ll need your details (and your partner’s, if you have one), including your:

  • National Insurance number
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you’re self-employed

You’ll also need:

  • the UK birth certificate reference number (if you have one) of any children you’re applying for
  • the date you started or are due to start work (this can be approximate if more than 3 months ago)

To apply, please click here Apply for free childcare if you're working - GOV.UK (

For more information, please visit Get free childcare if you're working: step by step - GOV.UK (