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Northern Ireland


Free Early Years Childcare Entitlement

Every child aged between 3 and 5 years is entitled to five sessions of two and a half hours a week (12.5 hours) of free early years education and care. This can be added together and taken as full day care or as combinations of sessions. The entitlement covers 38 weeks of the year (A full school year). Most childcare providers offer this but please check before counting on it.

Kids over 2 quality for free childcare

From 2010 the Entitlement rises to 15 hours per week which can be taken more flexibly. A list of nurseries offering the scheme can be obtained from your local council.

Tax Credits

Working tax credits are available for people on low incomes to help with the costs of childcare needed to work. Working tax credits is dependent on income and circumstances; it can help with up to 80% of the costs as long as the childcare provider is registered with OFSTED in England or the other appropriate body in Wales or Scotland.

A couple must both work for 16 hours or one partner must work 16 hours a week or more if the other can’t work for specific reasons. A single parent must also work 16 hours or more a week.
Child tax credits can also help supplement income. These are available to anyone with children under 16 or in full time education. The amount you receive is dependent on income and the age of your child (the rate is higher for children under one or if you have a child with a disability).       

To find out if you can claim Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit visit