Free childcare and early education places


I am having problems applying online, what can I do?

Contact us on 01782 232200 (option 1) or and we will be able to help you with your application.


What do I do once I get my letter showing that I am eligible?

The letter will be attached to the email that we send to you. Just show this to your chosen childcare provider to prove that you are eligible. Your childcare provider will do the rest. If you have problems opening the letter then please contact us at


My letter says I am not eligible but I think I am...

Get in touch with us at telling us why you think you are eligible. We may need to ask for further evidence from you.


What if my circumstances have changed and I now have an increased income, will I Iose the place?

No, once your child has been approved for the funding it stays in place and you will be entitled to the funded place until your child goes to school.


Which providers can I use?

Two-year-old funded places are delivered in high quality private nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and a small number of schools. Many of these providers will have signs or banners advertising that they provide funded hours. If you are unsure then you can search for childcare in your local area at - please click on ‘find childcare places’.


Do I have to use the full 15 hours?

No, although most children do access the full 15 hours, this is the maximum that you can use. You may wish to use less and should discuss this with your provider. You can use a maximum of 10 hours in one day.


Do I have to attend every day?

No, across the city there is a flexible way of using you hours. All providers will have their own way of offering the free hours. Some common examples are:

  • 3 hours per day x 5 days per week
  • 5 hours per day x 3 days per week
  • 7.5 hours per day x 2 days per week

You need to take this into account when choosing a provider.


What if I want more than 15 hours?

If you need more than the maximum allocation of 15 hours then you can pay for additional hours. This will be an agreement between you and the provider and any costs should be made clear to you to ensure that you are still accessing your funded 15 hours.


Will there be any charges on top of my funded place?

You should not be charged anything for the funded hours. Parents can be expected to pay for food, drinks and snacks as this is not covered by the funding. Many providers will allow a packed lunch as an alternative. Providers can also charge for consumables such as nappies or sun cream, and for services such as trips and specialist tuition. If there are any extra charges then these should be made clear before your child starts in a place. We recommend that you ask for details of any extra charges in writing for your records.


Is it only term time or can I use my hours in the school holidays?

The funding covers 15 hours for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours). Some providers allow parents to ‘stretch’ these hours across they whole year, for example 11 hours per week for 51 weeks per year.


Can the place start as soon as my child turns two years old?

No, you will have to wait until the start of a new term. Children can start in funded places the term after they turn two. Terms start in January, April and September.


What if my child is absent due to illness or holidays?

Your place will continue to be funded for any short-term illness for your child. The funding will also continue to pay for the place for during any holidays that your family may take. If for any reason your holiday stretches over four weeks then you should discuss this with your childcare provider who should contact the local authority to discuss.

If your child has regular unexplained absences then your provider may speak to you about reducing your funded hours or, in extreme circumstances, removing the place.


Can I use childcare provision outside of Stoke-on-Trent?

Yes, you can access any childcare provider that is registered with their local authority to deliver funded sessions. You need to apply to the area that you are planning to access the place, which is not always your home local authority. If you aren’t sure which local authority you should apply with then please get in touch.


Can I change my childcare provider once I have started using the funded hours?

Yes, you can move provision at any point but you will need to notify both providers of your decision so that that funding can be transferred. If you don’t then this could delay your start with a new provider. We advise that, for fairness, you try and give the provider that you are leaving at least four weeks’ notice of your decision.


I have lost my letter with the voucher; can I get another one?

Yes, you will need this to prove to the provider that you are eligible and have applied. If you can’t find your letter, please email and we can send through another one.


I am not happy with the way that my provider is administering the free hours, what should I do?

Firstly, you should speak to your provider. They should be clear in how the funded hours are being delivered. If you cannot resolve the issue with your provider then you can email your concerns to

For any questions that are not listed here, contact us on 01782 232200 (option 1) or