Parents have been warned they have just one week until applications open for extra childcare support.

The Government is extending free childcare eligibility to hundreds of thousands of parents across the country as part of a major expansion.

It was announced in the Spring Budget last March, with a new three-phase approach being rolled out.

From May 12, 15 hours of free childcare will be available to eligible working parents of children aged between nine months and three years.

Previously only eligible parents of children aged between three and four-years-old could claim the free childcare in England.

You can check if you are eligible here.

Separate schemes operate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Child Benefit support for parents

There are other forms of support available to parents struggling with the cost of living crisis, including child benefits.

You normally qualify for Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child under 16 and you live in the UK.

You can still qualify for Child Benefit if your child is under 20 and they stay in approved education or training.

Full eligibility can be found here.

Amy Knight, personal finance expert at NerdWallet UK, said: “The percentage of eligible children whose households claim child benefit has risen up to 90per cent, from its lowest ever rate in 2022 of 87 per cent.

"If you’re eligible, it’s not too late to apply through the government website. While payments can only be backdated three months, they will continue until your child leaves full-time education, turns 19 or begins higher education.

"Combined with the expansion of childcare funding, child benefit payments can ease the financial pressure on those raising a family in this economy.

"However, the number of families receiving child benefit payments has fallen, as has the number of children supported by the payments. 

"As UK wages grow, more parents face the high-income child benefit charge. The threshold for the paying charge has shifted up to £60,000, making it worthwhile for more households to accept this government help – particularly single parents and sole-earner families who previously missed out.

"But, for some parents earning between £60,000 and £80,000, the requirement to file a self-assessment is off-putting. The stigma surrounding benefits may also deter the so-called “squeezed middle” from claiming the financial support they’re entitled to.”