Free early education for three and four year olds

Every child aged three and four is eligible to access free early education. The free places are available in settings that are Ofsted registered and are on the local authority register of eligible providers.

The funding allows you to access up to 15 hours per week during school term time (38 weeks per year).  The hours can be spread  over more weeks of the year, up to a total of 570 hours.

More information can be found in a parent's guide to free early education for three and four year olds.(PDF 3.38MB)

30 hours funded childcare 

Some three and four year olds can now access the equivalent of 30 hours funded childcare a week. 


All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours per week, for 38 weeks per year from the start of the term following their 3rd birthday. From September 2017 this increased to 30 hours per week for those children whose parents meet the national eligibility criteria.


There is more information on the Childcare Choices website where working parents can check their eligibility and make an application.  There is also a childcare calculator to show eligible families how much they could receive. 


Every three months parents are required to reconfirm that they are still eligible for 30 hours and Tax Free childcare.  If a parent's details have not changed they only need to tick a box in their childcare service account to confirm their details remain the same.


Parents should receive two reminders to reconfirm (4 weeks and 2 weeks before the reconfirmation deadline).


If a parent misses the reconfirmation deadline they will receive a message telling them that they are no longer eligible for 30 hours and Tax Free childcare.  When a provider validates the parents code it will show that they are in their 'grace period', which means the child will be able to continue to access their 30 hours place until the end of the term.  To take up a place in the following term parents will need to reconfirm.  This can be done through their childcare service account even if they have missed their reconfirmation deadline.


If you have set up an account but are unsure how to access it, please take a look here.


Here is a list of Bolton providers who are offering 30 hour free childcare places

If you have any questions about the online application process please contact HMRC on 0300 123 4097 as Bolton Council staff are not able to assist with this process.


Free childcare for two year olds

Some two year old children are eligible for free childcare and early education, more information can be found in our leaflet - Free early education and childcare for two year olds. (PDF 1.81MB)

If you think your child may be eligible for a free two year old place call into a Start Well Children's Centre  or 'Approved Provider' as they will be able to check if your child is eligible and a letter will then be issued to them.

You can contact any school or childcare provider that is registered to ask about vacancies.

Tax Free childcare

Working parents of children who are aged under 12 years (or disabled children under 17 years) can now apply for Tax-Free Childcare and receive a government top-up of £2 for every £8 they pay into their Tax Free Childcare account.  The money can be used towards a range of regulated childcare, including nurseries, childminders, after school clubs and holiday clubs.  You can get more information and make an application on the Childcare Choices website.

Please see '30 hours free childcare' section above for information about reconfirming eligibility.

Take a look at the 'Top things parents need to know about the new offers: Tax free childcare and 30 hours free childcare'.

Childcare and early education providers in Bolton

Search for childcare and early education providers

Details are also available from Bolton Families Information Service by calling 01204 332170 or by email using

Once you have found a place that is right for your child you will be asked to complete a simple form.

If you have any other queries please contact the Bolton Families Information Service.

Families Information Service

One Stop Shop

Town Hall



Telephone 01204 332170
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