Your early learning and childcare options
Help with paying for childcare
If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you may be able to claim up to 85% of your childcare costs
- Universal Credit helpline: 0800 3285644
You may be eligible for help paying for childcare if you receive Tax Credits.
If you joined one of the schemes on or before 4 October 2018, you might be able to still get vouchers or directly contracted childcare.
If you are a student, support may be available. Contact your university or college for information.
Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods
You can get Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods:
- if your child is the right age for a payment
- whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or benefits
- as long as you're the parent of a child, or the main person looking after the child.
Best Start Grant is 3 cash payments. Each payment can only be paid once per child.
The 3 Best Start Grant payments are:
- Pregnancy and Baby Payment
You can apply from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old. If you get the payment for your 1st child, you'll be paid £600. You'll get £300 for your 2nd or 3rd child, or any child after these.
- Early Learning Payment
You can apply when your child is between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old. You'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for.
- School Age Payment
You'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for.
Best Start Foods
You can apply when you're pregnant, or any time up to your child turning 3 years old. This goes up to 4 years old for a child who is over 2 years old when you apply.
If you are getting Healthy Start Vouchers for a child you apply for, you'll be moved from Healthy Start Vouchers to Best Start Foods.
The payments of Best Start Foods are:
- £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
- £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
- £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3
If you are eligible for Best Start Grants you may be eligible for A Good Time to Be 2.