In Congleton the main referral point for Childcare services is Cheshire East Council:
You can get help paying for childcare (approved childcare) if it’s provided by:
- registered childminder, play scheme, nursery or club
- childminder with an Ofsted-registered childminding agency
- registered school
- home careworker working for a registered home care agency
Benefits and Tax Credits
Help with childcare costs is available for parents of children under 18. Some of the benefits are for people on some sort of income support and some are for parents not entitled to any other benefit. You might be able to apply for one of the following:
- Tax-Free Childcare (most working parents not on benefits)
- Tax credits (if on Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit (extra childcare support)
- Help while you study (at school, college or university)
Most working parents who are not on any benefits are entitled to an allowance from the government called ‘tax free childcare’. You can get this if you are in work, on sick or annual leave, or on parental or adoption leave.
Many employers do not know much about this benefit but you can find out about it and ensure you receive it to help with childcare costs. You can get up to £2000 a year to help with childcare (£4000 for a disabled child).
Child Tax Credit
If you already receive Working Tax Credit, you may also be able to claim this benefit to help with the costs of childcare.
Child tax credits are more than £2800 per child per year, and more if you have a disabled child.
If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you can also claim up to 85% of your childcare costs, as long as you (and your partner) are working or have a job offer.
Help While you Study
There are a number of schemes that provide childcare funding while you are at school, college or university.
Free childcare for children aged 2, 3 and 4
There are currently three separate government funded childcare schemes that offer free childcare for children aged two, three and four. Each of the free schemes has different eligibility rules so it’s important to check which of the schemes is right for you. The links below cover the eligibility rules for these schemes if you live in England.
15 hours free childcare for 2-year-olds (free early-years education)
Until April 2024, in order to be eligible for free childcare for your two-year-old you had to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit.
From April 2024, the early education entitlement will be expanded for working families of younger children so they can access 15 hours per week, increasing to 30 hours per week by September 2025.
15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds
This scheme is already open to all 3 and 4-year olds. There are no earnings or work requirements. You should be able to start receiving the childcare from 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child’s 3rd birthday.
The entitlement is for 15 hours of free early learning care per week over term time (38 weeks a year), a total of 570 hours over the year.
The entitlement may be stretched over the whole year with fewer hours per week for example 11 hours a week over the full year.
30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds
All 3 and 4-year-olds in England already get 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year of free early education (as above). If their parents are living and working in England, 3 and 4-year-olds may be entitled to an additional 15 hours free childcare. An extra 570 hours of free childcare a year, so 1140 hours in total.
The additional 15 hours per week (30 hours in total) are available to working parents of 3 and 4 year olds that meet the following eligibility criteria:
Please see below for more useful links related to childcare costs:
- The Working Families Network has a wealth of practical advice for parents
- Top things parents need to know ( PDF, 357KB)
- 30 hours free childcare for foster children (cheshireeast.gov.uk)
- Childcare vouchers and other employer schemes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Last updated: 5th February 2024