Paying for childcare

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.

How to pay for childcare is a common concern for kinship carers. The good news is that you can get help towards childcare for children aged 0 to 16, as long as the childcare provider is approved. Depending on your circumstances, funding is available to help you balance the needs of your family with your work and other commitments.

What counts as an approved childcare provider?

  • A nursery, pre-school or playgroup registered with Ofsted
  • A childminder or nanny registered with Ofsted (or employed by an agency registered by Ofsted)
  • A registered school, or before or after-school club in a registered school

Early years funding for 2-4 year-olds

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 who work and have specified minimum earnings (equal to or more than 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) can claim up to 30 hours’ free childcare (GOV.UK) for children aged 3-4 years old. If the child you care for is aged 2, you may also qualify for 15 hours of free childcare (GOV.UK). For children under 2, you will need to cover the costs of childcare yourself.

Tax-free childcare

Tax-free childcare allows you to access government help with paying for childcare costs, if you meet the criteria for the scheme. Kinship carers can get up to £500 every three months to spend on childcare with a registered provider (or up to £1000 every three months, if the child you care for is disabled).

You can benefit from tax-free childcare as well as free funded childcare for up to 30 hours a week, provided you’re eligible for both. You can use tax-free childcare to pay for nurseries, childminders, nannies and wraparound care providers. First check with your childcare provider to see if they are registered for the tax-free scheme.

Check if you are eligible for tax-free childcare (GOV.UK)

Help with childcare for low-income families

Caring for a child as a kinship carer is rewarding, but can also be emotionally and financially demanding. We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different. Some families can find it hard to make ends meet and claim benefits as a vital support net.

Universal Credit childcare costs

Universal Credit is the new means-tested benefit for adults who are of working age. Universal Credit has replaced Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit. This monthly payment provides help with living costs. If you receive Universal Credit, you may be able to claim back up to 85% of childcare costs.

Find out more about Universal Credit (GOV.UK)

Find out more about upfront childcare costs from the Flexible Support Fund (GOV.UK)

Tax credits

Tax credits have now ended for all new claims. If you currently claim tax credits, you will be moved on to Universal Credit by 2024.

Visit the Universal Credit website to find out more about the changes to tax credits

Childcare Choices

The government’s Childcare Choices sets out all your help with childcare options.

Support from Kinship

Here at Kinship, we offer a range of free support for all kinship carers, including workshops, online advice and information, and peer support groups.

Contact our advice service to speak to an adviser or book an appointment.