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Childcare & Early Education

Supporting Your Family

There are various schemes that support families with childcare costs. What works best for you and your family will depend on your household circumstances, but we will help work out the most cost-effective way to meet your childcare needs.

All Derwent Stepping Stones settings offer funded sessions to children who qualify, in many cases allowing families to access heavily reduced or even free nursery and childcare places. One of our staff members will be very happy to discuss your options with you, but these are the key options for accessing reduced price and free childcare in Derby.

Tax Credits & Universal Credit
Tax Credits and Universal Credit help support families with children and working people on low incomes. See here for advice on Tax Credits, and here for advice on Universal Credits. or phone 0345 300 3900.

Employer Vouchers
Although the scheme is closed to new participants we still accept many brands of vouchers.

Tax-Free Childcare
Tax-Free Childcare helps working parents with the costs of childcare. For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs. The scheme is available for children up to the age of 12. Both parents will have to be in work, each earning at least £139 a week and less than £100,000 per year.

2-Year-Old Funding
If you have a household income of less than £16,190 a year and are receiving Working Tax Credits, or are on certain benefits, you may be entitled to up to 15 hours of funded childcare a week. If you qualify, you will receive a funding approval letter from Derby City Council.

3 and 4-Year-Old Funding - for Everyone
All children are entitled to funded early education the term after they become 3. The funding is for 570 hours per year and is often provided for 15 hours per week over 38 weeks per year, like school terms. We can be more flexible and offer sessions to suit your family’s needs across the whole year, just ask one of our staff for details.

3 and 4-Year-Old Funding - Extended Offer
Working families can benefit from a further 570 hours of free early education per year. To qualify, both parents must be working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns at least £139 and less than £100,000 per year.

Government Gateway

Tax Credits, Universal Credit, Tax Free Childcare, and the extended entitlement for three and four year olds are all Government schemes to supply reduced cost and free nursery and childcare to families in the UK. To access these services, you will need a Government Gateway account. You may already have a Government Gateway login as it’s required to access most Government services online, especially when dealing with tax and benefits. If you don’t already have an account, however, information about creating an account can be found at

Parents in Education

If you are a parent in full time education, there are different arrangements available for you to access reduced or free childcare in Derby. Care to Learn, Discretionary Learner Support and Childcare Grants all support childcare and nursery costs so that you can focus on your studies with the peace of mind that your children are being well cared for in an environment that can also support their early learning. To learn more about these schemes, talk to your school, training provider, college or university and they will be able to help you access this support.

Children With Disabilities

At Derwent Stepping Stones, every child receives individual attention and we have years of experience in working with children with additional needs. Most schemes designed to help families source reduced cost and free nursery and childcare will also support children with disabilities, but different rules may apply. You can get individual details on what is available for you and your situation on the Childcare Choices website, or you can investigate with the local council to explore what specialist services are available to provide free childcare in Derby.

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Meal Costs

Unfortunately, Government funding does not cover the costs of meals or other consumables. We can supply meals to children at a small cost, but we have plenty of flexible options that mean you will not have to pay for breakfast, lunch or tea while your child is in care with us. We provide drinks, snacks and all activities and additional consumables at no cost to you. Sessions where meals are not served, for example from 9.00am-12.00pm and 12.00pm- 3.00pm, and which are therefore free of meal charges, are also available.

Childcare Choices

The Government’s Childcare Choices website is a great resource for any families seeking help with childcare costs. Whether you have babies, toddlers, young children or teenagers, there are options that could give you the support you need. You will have to meet certain criteria to access the different schemes, and this could be based on your household situation, your location or the age of your child. The website has a really helpful calculator that can help you explore what schemes you might be eligible for to receive reduced cost or free childcare in Derby.

Minimise Costs

Some schemes providing free childcare cannot be used in conjunction with any other scheme, but some can be combined. For example, 2, 3 and 4-year-old funded childcare can be used with Tax-Free Childcare, Universal Credit and Tax Credits. We are very happy to help find the most cost effective childcare solution for your circumstances. For families needing funded sessions with wraparound care over 51 weeks, we will work out the pattern of attendance that is most cost effective whilst meeting your needs. This may include ‘stretching’ funded sessions over the year.