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Your handy guide to childcare support and benefits

Did you know that you can get help with the cost of your child going to a registered nursery, playgroup or childminder?

All childcare providers must be registered with the Care Inspectorate.

Read more about the quality of ELC settings here.

Early Learning and Childcare

Funded by the Scottish Government through your local authority, high quality early learning and childcare helps give your little one the best possible start. It will help with your child’s language and social skills, encouraging them to learn through play with other children. Read more about the benefits of ELC here.


All 3 and 4 year olds, and around a quarter of 2 year olds can get up to 600 hours of Early Learning and Childcare, funded by the Scottish Government. That works out at about 16 hours a week if you use it during school term-time, or around 12 hours a week if you use it year round. Check out our Funding and Entitlement to ELC page for more info.

What other ways can you get help with childcare costs?

Is there any other help available to me with childcare costs?

You could be able to get help through the following:

For information on eligibility and how to apply please visit childcarechoices.gov.uk

You can also use the GOV.UK childcare calculator to see if you are eligible for any other help with childcare costs

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The Flexible Support Fund

The Flexible Support Fund is a discretionary fund that Jobcentre Plus staff can use to help to remove barriers to employment – this means that it can sometimes be used for childcare costs. For more information, contact your local Jobcentre.

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If you’re a student

If you are studying at Higher Education level then you may be able to apply to your college or university's Childcare Fund. This Fund is provided by the Scottish Government to help towards the cost of registered or formal childcare costs. This includes: childminders, after school clubs, day care, sitter services and providers of pre-school and education. Each college or University is responsible for deciding which students should receive payments and how much each payment should be. As part of this, you may be able to receive a non-income assessed Lone Parent Childcare Grant. In addition to this, if you are widowed, separated, divorced or single with at least one dependent child you may be eligible for the Lone Parent Grant from SAAS, which you are able to apply for in your initial funding application.

You may also be eligible for support from your College or universities discretionary funds.  More information on all support available to students studying at HNC/HND level or above, can be found on the Student Awards Agency Scotland website.

If you are studying at further education level at college then you may be able to get some additional funding to help pay towards childcare.

Each college has a Childcare Fund to help their students pay for registered childcare. Priority is given to certain groups including lone parents, mature students and part-time students although other full time students can apply too.  The support available differs from college to college. To find out what is available you should speak to your college funding team.

You may also be able to get help towards childcare costs from your colleges discretionary fund, you can find out more about this here

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If you work

If you’re a working parent, you can take advantage of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. You should also check if your employer offers childcare vouchers. You can find out more about them here.

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If you already get Universal Credit

You may be able to claim 85% of your childcare costs if you currently get Universal Credit.

However, you can't get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, an Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

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