Find out about help available with childcare costs, including 15 and 30 hours free childcare for 2-4 year-olds, tax-free childcare, and Universal Credit.
Childcare for kinship carers
Information for kinship carers on childcare options for children aged 0-16, including nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and nannies.
For many kinship carers, childcare is an essential part of your support network. The kind of childcare you can access depends on how old your child is, your family’s needs and your budget. Financial help with childcare is available for kinship carers.
Explore all your childcare options on the Childcare Choices website.
Childcare for children 2–4-years old
All children aged 3 and 4 in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, for 38 weeks a year. Many kinship carers can claim up to 30 hours’ free childcare (GOV.UK) for the child they care for.
Some 2-year-olds also qualify for free childcare (GOV.UK).
If the child you care for is under 2 years old, you need to pay for childcare.
Your local council can help you understand exactly what you are entitled to.
Nurseries care for children up to primary school age. Whether privately run or operated by your local council, all nurseries are registered with Ofsted. Most nurseries offer holiday care as well as childcare during the school term.
Pre-schools help children aged 3 and 4 get ready for school. Often attached to primary schools, their opening hours usually match those of the school day. Pre-schools tend to operate during term-time only.
Childcare for primary school-aged children
All children in England should attend primary school from the September after their fourth birthday, until they are 11 years old. Many kinship carers use childcare including childminders, breakfast, after-school or sports clubs so they can work or have a well-earned break during the school day. Childcare options vary from school to school and in your local area.
Wraparound childcare is where you get childcare before and after the school day.
Some primary schools offer their own wraparound childcare, while others employ companies to run their before and after-school childcare schemes. The cost of wraparound care depends on where you live. Alternatively, you may find wraparound care providers in your local area that aren’t based in school.
Many primary schools also offer after-school clubs. Clubs are interest or sport-based, available on different days, and can end at different times. Bear in mind that after-school activities usually only run during term-time.
Holiday childcare comes in different forms and can be run by your local council, private companies or charities. Many childcare settings like pre-schools and wraparound care are only available in term-time. You may need to find a different provider for holiday care.
Childminders are professional carers who look after children, usually in their own home. Some can pick up and drop off your children from school. Childminders provide a more family-led environment for a child and are registered with and regularly inspected by Ofsted. Their rates vary, depending on where you live.
Nannies are private individuals who offer your family the most flexibility with childcare. For that reason, they are usually more expensive than other formal childcare options. In many cases, you are considered a nanny’s legal employer. Not all nannies are registered with Ofsted, so always check their qualifications, insurance and references.
Informal childcare covers arrangements you make with family, friends, local playgroups or creches. Types of informal childcare include:
- when a family member or friend looks after the child you care for
- playdates with other carers
- local playgroups
- creches in places like gyms or shops