Home Finance Free childcare applications for parents of 9-month-olds now open – here’s how...

Free childcare applications for parents of 9-month-olds now open – here’s how to claim


Mother using laptop and holding her newborn baby at home

Free childcare applications for parents of 9-month-olds now open – here’s how to claim (Image: Getty)

Hundreds of thousands of families set to benefit as working parents of nine-month-olds can now apply for Government-funded childcare for the first time.

The new scheme became available on Sunday, May 12, and eligible working parents of children who will be nine months old by August 31 can apply to access 15 hours of funded childcare a week.

This is the second step in the Government’s long-term plan to support parents to balance their family and career. In April, eligible working parents of two-year-olds were offered the chance to claim 15 hours of free childcare, benefiting 211,027 families so far.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented: “Last year we promised the biggest ever expansion in childcare provision in history and we are delivering. Over 210,000 children have already benefited from 15 hours of Government-funded care and parents of nine-month-olds can 1715606856 apply.

“Our full expansion will save parents an average of £6,900 a year, meaning no parent has to choose between their career and caring for their child. This will give working families the peace of mind that they will be supported, helping to build a brighter future for families and to grow our economy.”

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Rishi Sunak Departs Downing Street for PMQs in London

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the expansion will save parents an average of £6,900 a year (Image: Getty)

Who is eligible for free childcare?

Working parents whose children will be aged between nine and 23 months on August 31, 2024, can apply for their Government-funded childcare code via the childcare service, which they then take to their chosen childcare provider to validate.

In this next stage, the rollout will deliver direct Government support with childcare costs from the term after their child turns nine months old until they start school.

By September 2025, support will increase to 30 Government-funded hours a week, saving families an average of £6,900 per year.

Parents on parental leave or starting a new job by the end of September 2024, can apply for their childcare code 16 weeks before returning to work, extended from the original period of 31 days.

These parents are urged to apply online via the Childcare Service and will receive a letter in the post within one to two weeks. This will enable them to get their code in advance of provider deadlines.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said: “No parent should be forced to choose between looking after their children and having a successful career.

“Backed by significant funding, we are providing hundreds of thousands of families across the country with access to high-quality childcare – making sure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential while also providing a boost to the economy.”

All local authorities have reported they are currently meeting the demand from parents for childcare places, and an increase of just one percent – 15,000 places – will be needed for September.

Last year, the number of childcare places increased by around 15,000, and the number of staff by around 13,000, before direct Government interventions to increase capacity.

The Government said it is continuing to work closely with local authorities to deliver the rollout, including allocating £100million of capital investment and an additional £12million of delivery support.

Jason Elsom, chief executive of Parentkind said: “As a father to a blended family of eight children, I know only too well the sacrifices that many parents make for their children. The cost of childcare often leads many parents to go without, or even sacrifice their careers as it simply makes no sense to put two children in childcare at the cost of a whole salary.

“Many families will welcome the lifeline that this support offers.”

Parents with a preferred provider are urged to speak to them directly about a place for September.

Meanwhile, any who are struggling to find a place should contact their local authority, who will be able to help them find a provider in their area.

The application system requires parents to reconfirm their eligibility every three months, so parents new to the system, who apply before June 1, will need to reconfirm their code prior to the offer starting in September.

Eligible parents with an existing Tax-Free Childcare account registered on the application system will be able to apply for a code at their next reconfirmation window.

To make sure every parent eligible for the September rollout can access the scheme, parents who had to reconfirm their eligibility before May 12, and whose next application window opens on June 9 or later, will receive a letter from HMRC containing a code by May 24.

Parents can check their eligibility before applying at gov.uk or through the online eligibility checker tool at childcarechoices.gov.uk.

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