By Spring Childcare · 26 Jan 2024

Navigating Childcare Funding at Spring – A Guide for Parents

Since applications opened on 2 January, tens of thousands of parents have applied for, and received, codes to access their new childcare entitlements, however due to the application system requiring that parents reconfirm their eligibility for Tax-Free childcare and working parent entitlements every 3 months, parents who reconfirmed their Tax-Free Childcare eligibility before 2 January 2024, cannot apply for a code to access the new 2-year-oldentitlement until their reconfirmation window next opens.

For the minority of parents who last reconfirmed in late 2023, this may mean that their next reconfirmation window does not open until the second half of February or March. For example, if they reconfirmed on 29 December 2023, their reconfirmation deadline would be 29 March 2024. Their four-week reconfirmation window would therefore open on 1 March 2024.


How to claim 15 hours free childcare including where to get your code

Applications are now open for eligible working parents of 2-year-olds to receive 15 hours funded childcare, starting from April 2024.

How do I apply?

You need to meet the eligibility criteria before you can claim 15 hours funded childcare. You apply online here on

You’ll need to make sure you have the following information to hand before starting the application:

  • your national insurance number (or unique taxpayer reference if you are self-employed)
  • the date you started or are due to start work
  • details of any government support or benefits you receive
  • the UK birth certificate reference number (if you have one) for your child.

You may find out if you’re eligible straight away, but it can take up to 7 days. Once your application has been approved, you’ll get a code for funded childcare to give to Spring Childcare. Applications are open from now until 31 March. If you miss the deadline, or don’t receive your code by 31 March, you won’t be able to start using the new entitlements from 1 April.

 What if I’m already registered for Tax Free Childcare?

Parents must reconfirm that they are still eligible for Tax-Free Childcare every 3 months.

As applications are now open for the new free hours entitlement, when eligible parents reconfirm they will receive a code which will also enable them to access the new offer.

To provide reassurance to parents with reconfirmation windows in late February and March, HMRC are taking additional steps to ensure every parent is able to give their code to their provider in good time.

If your reconfirmation window opens on or after the 15 February, HMRC will send you a letter with a temporary code before this date.

The letter will also explain how to use your code to claim your funded place in April. Where possible, please wait for your letter to arrive. You don’t need to contact HMRC.

Before your letter arrives, you can speak to us and use your eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare to demonstrate your eligibility for the new funded hours entitlement, as the eligibility criteria are the same. You can do this by showing us:

  • Proof of your Tax-Free Childcare eligibility (this can be a screenshot from your childcare account, or simply showing your account to your provider)
  • When your reconfirmation window is (you can get this from your childcare account)
  • Your National Insurance number, and proof of your child’s date of birth, for example your child’s birth certificate, to show they turn 2 on or before 31 March 2024.

However, you must wait for your code (either via letter or through your regular childcare account) to formally confirm your free place.

My child turns 2 after 1 April. Why aren’t I entitled to free childcare?

You can only apply for the first phase of the new working parent entitlement if your child is already 2-years-old or will have had their 2nd birthday on or before 31 March 2024.

Children who are born on or after 1 April will become eligible later in the year:

Parents are only able to claim the entitlements from the term after because this gives local authorities and Spring Childcare enough time to prepare.

*At Spring we stretch funding to ensure your child receive consistent care throughout the year. The childcare funding offers are not intended to cover the costs of meals, snacks, nappies, sun cream, additional hours or additional activities (such as trips).


Let’s look at why you should choose Spring and why you should sign up quickly.


At Spring, we’re dedicated to providing children with a safe, nurturing environment to learn and grow. Our team of experienced and devoted practitioners ensure each child gets individualized attention to help them develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually.


  • Thriving Two’s Programme

Our Thriving Twos model outlines the supportive programmes and training that will be provided to all staff working with our two-year-olds, across every setting. We support the staff working with this age group to recognise the amazing journey these children are on and feel equipped to manage some of the potential challenges along the way. When children feel secure and understood, they thrive and meet their potential, giving them the best possible start in life.

  • Babies Programme

Research shows that early attachment and positive interactions are essential for babies’ brain development, impacting on their outcomes for the rest of their lives. In our nurseries, we provide our teams with training to ensure they have a strong understanding of how best to support, educate and care for children under the age of two. We also have carefully developed environments that provide warm and nurturing spaces for our under twos to develop their physical skills, rest well and enjoy fun and engaging activities.

  • Eat Better, Start Better

Within all our Spring by Action for Children settings, we follow Eat Better Start Better guidelines and have accredited menus indicating high-quality and nutritious food served to all children. This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring good health and wellbeing. We believe good nutrition and physical activity contributes to a healthy start to life and a positive mental and physical health.

Our Eat Better Start Better accredited menus meet national best practice guidelines and offer children the nutrients and energy they need to thrive. Healthy eating habits in the years before school are very important because they influence a range of health and development outcomes in later life.

  • Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator’s (PANCo)

As part of our commitment to healthy lifestyles, Spring have partnered up with PurpleBee Learning to upskill our staff for a PANCo qualification. The Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator (PANCo) is a new role for Early Years Staff and the aim is for Spring Nurseries and Spring Oscars to have a PANCo within each setting. The PANCo champions best practice in physical activity and nutrition and acts as the agent for change. They lead positive change to ensure an environment and ethos that supports the prevention of obesity and positive health and well-being of children, families, and staff.

Our PANCO’s are able to apply practical knowledge and skills to lead and support positive change within the settings whilst role-modelling best practice for the nursery teams. This means they can support when planning activities and educating children on health. They are able to provide advice and information for parents and carers and contribute to Ofsted.


We hope this blog has been helpful in provided information on the new funding changes. If you would like to find out more about other funding options available at Spring please visit our Funding page.