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3 & 4 Year Old Free Early Years Funding (including 30 Hours Childcare)

30 Hours Childcare, Extended Entitlement -  Since September 2017 - The government has committed to doubling the amount of free childcare from 15 to 30 hours a week for working parents of three and four year olds.

APPLY NOW FOR TAX FREE CHILDCARE & THE 3 & 4 YEAR EXTENDED ENTITLMENT

Childcare Choices - Use this service to apply for Tax-Free Childcare or 3 and 4 year old extended free entitlement. It's one single application that will check your eligibility for both. www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

Early education and childcare Statutory guidance for local authorities March 2017

Date information updated:- October 2017

Settings Offering 3 & 4 Year Funded Places
Click on the link above
  • Day Nurseries 3 & 4 Year Funded
  • Pre-Schools 3 & 4 Year Funded
  • Childminders 3 & 4 Year Funded
  • Maintained Nursery Schools & Classes 3 & 4 Year Funded
  • Settings Intending to Offer 30 hours Extended Entitlement 3 & 4 Year Funded Places

What is a FREE Early Years Place?

All three and four year old children are entitled to a free part-time early years place at a nursery or pre-school before they reach school age. This entitlement not only helps towards the cost of childcare but it also enables children to start to learn and play with other children in a fun, safe and structured environment.

When are children eligible to claim?

Children become eligible to claim a free early years place from the start of the term following their third birthday.

A child born between 1 January and 31 March is entitled to claim from the start of the summer term

A child born between 1 April and 31 August is entitled to claim from the start of the autumn term

A child born between 1 September and 31 December is entitled to claim from the start of the spring term

Terms generally cover the following months

Summer - April - July, Autumn - September - December, Spring - January - March

How do I apply for the universal 15 hours entitlement?

All three and four year old children are entitled to a free part-time early years place at a nursery, pre-school or childminder before they reach school age. This entitlement not only helps towards the cost of childcare but it also enables children to start to learn and play with other children in a fun, safe and structured environment.

You need to register your child with a childcare provider who is registered with the Reading Early Years Service. When your child is eligible the provider will give you a parental agreement form to complete. You will need to fill out the form and return it to the nursery, pre-school or childminder who will then make a claim for funding from the Early Years Team.

The following leaflet will provide further information. ENTITLEMENT FOR 3 AND 4 YEAR OLD CHILDREN

Free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds

From 1 September 2017, the Government will be extending the free childcare entitlement for working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds, to 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year (1,140 hours per year).

The current entitlement for all 3 and 4-year-olds is 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours per year). This will still be available.

The 30 hours free childcare entitlement is being introduced alongside a new scheme to help working families with the cost of childcare called Tax Free Childcare.

An eligible child can receive the 30 free hours until they reach statutory school age or attend school in reception class.

What legislation applies to the 30 hours (extended entitlement)?

The government is introducing the 30 hours of free childcare as part of the Childcare Act 2016. The aim is to help working families and allow more parents to work if they want to.

From 1 September 2017, free childcare will be available for up to 30 hours a week (for up to 38 weeks a year) for working parents of 3 and 4 year-olds.

To find our more visit -  https://childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/

Early education and childcare Statutory guidance for local authorities March 2017

How do I apply for the additional 15 hours (30 hours)?

Parents must apply through an online eligibility checking system. Developed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) https://childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/par/app/applynow or visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

Use this service to apply for Tax-Free Childcare or 3 and 4 year old extended free entitlement. It's one single application that will check your eligibility for both. 

Tax-Free Childcare was introduced in April 2017. It will be gradually rolled out. Parents will be able to apply for all your children when your youngest child becomes eligible. You will also be able to get their code for 30 hours free childcare at the same time. All eligible parents will be able to benefit by March 2018. 

Once you have gone through the online eligibility checking system, (HMRC) for the 3 and 4 year old extended free entitlement, you will be given an Eligibility Reference Number. You will need to give this to your chosen childcare provider, who will ask you to complete the Reading Early Years FREE 30 Hours Childcare Extended Entitlement Funding Parental Agreement Form in order to claim the 30 free hours. (April  2017)

If you experience any problems with completing the application for the extended entitlement or have a query, please contact - The Childrens Service - Gov.uk Tel: 0300 123 4097

 

How many hours are free?

The current universal entitlement for all 3 and 4-year-olds will continue. Every 3 and 4 year-old will still be entitled to 15 hours free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year - a total of 570 hours per year.

In addition to this the Government is going to increase this entitlement for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year-olds from 1 September 2017. Working parents will be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare a week to make a total of 30 hours. This will be offered for 38 weeks of the year - a total of 1,140 hours per year.

At what age does my child qualify?

Your child will be eligible to claim the 30 free hours from the beginning of the term after their 3rd birthday. Terms start in January, April or September.

For example, if your child turns 3 on the 6th July, they will be eligible from the September that year.

In order for your child to qualify for the 30 free hours from September 2017, they must have turned 3 years old on or before the 31/08/2017

Will my child qualify?

In order for a child aged 3 and 4-year-olds to qualify, both parents must be working or the sole parent must be working in a lone parent family.

Use the following link to find out more - Will I qualify for 30 hours free childcare?

What if I am foster parent?

Foster carers cannot claim the 30 free hours for children they foster. The child can still access their 15 hours of funded childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds up until they start school.

What if I have remarried or have a new partner?

If you have remarried or are living with a new partner, you and your new partner must both be working in order for your child to be eligible.

Do I meet the earnings criteria?

This is based on income earned, not hours worked.

30 hours childcare extended entitlement eligibility to find out more

The upper limit that each parent can earn is £100,000.

A parent will not receive a ‘yes’ decision where:

Either or both parents have an income of more than £100,000

If one or both parents is a non-EEA national and the parent applying does not have recourse to public funds

(Updated August 2017)

What happens if we are on a zero hour contract?

Parents on zero hour contracts can apply for 30 hours funding, please contact Childcare Service helpline to find out more - 0300 123 4097 

What if one of us is self-employed?

As long as you earn at least the minimum amount, but less than the upper threshold of £100,000 each, your child will be eligible for the 30 hours free childcare.

Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not
need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.

What happens if a parent loses eligibility?

They will receive a ‘grace period’ – this means they will be able to keep their childcare for a short period.

The grace period is set so:

A child who becomes ineligible during the first half of a funding blockshould be funded until the end of that funding block (31 March, 31 August, 31 December) or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is the shorter. A child who becomes ineligible in the latter half of the funding block (up to the last day of the funding block) should be funded until the end of the following funding block or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is the shorter.


Once the ‘grace period’ has lapsed, the parent may be entitled to the universal 15-hour entitlement.

(March 2017)

What happens if there is a change in income or we lose our jobs?

If either parent starts earning less than the minimum income threshold or stops working altogether, you will be given a short 'grace period' (this is set by the Government) to give you time to find a new job and start earning at least the minimum amount again. 

If you do not find a new job within the grace period, your child will stop being eligible to receive the 30 hours free childcare.

The grace period is set so:

A child who becomes ineligible during the first half of a funding blockshould be funded until the end of that funding block (31 March, 31 August, 31 December) or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is the shorter. A child who becomes ineligible in the latter half of the funding block (up to the last day of the funding block) should be funded until the end of the following funding block or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is the shorter.

(March 2017)

What types of childcare providers can offer the 30 hours?

All OFSTED registered approved childcare providers who currently offer grant funded early education can choose to offer the 30 hours free childcare. This includes childminders, nursery schools/classes, day nurseries and pre-schools.

It is the childcare providers' choice if they offer the 30 hours. Parents should speak to their current provider or any provider they are thinking of using. Details of providers can be found on www.reading.gov.uk/fis

Will all childcare providers in Reading offer the 30 hours?

It will be optional for approved childcare providers in Reading, and elsewhere, to offer the 30 free hours.

Childcare providers who opt not to provide the 30 free hours may still offer the universal 15 free hours for 3 & 4-year-olds.

To find out more visit our Childcare page

(Updated August 2017)

Can I use more than one childcare provider for my 30 hours?

There will be no limitation on the number of providers. However, the 30 hours will be limited to two locations in a single day to avoid the potential negative impact on children of multiple transitions between locations.

Do I have to use all my 30 hours each week?

No, you can use anything from 15-30 hours - it is up to you.

However, not all childcare providers may be able to offer the exact amount of free hours that you require. Providers can claim the 30 free hours entitlement from their Local Authority using the following criteria (as of March 2017):

  • No sessions to be longer than 10 hour
  • No minimum session lenght (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
  • Hours - not before 6.00am or after 8.00pm
  • A maximum of two sites in a single day

If your childcare provider cannot offer the exact amount of free hours that you require, you could split your 30 free hours across more than one childcare provider.

Are there any additional costs I might have to pay for?

Government funding is intended to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of free, high quality, flexible childcare. It is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables, additional childcare hours or any additional services offered by the childcare settings.

Childcare settings may therefore charge for meals and snacks as part of the free entitlement place and they may also charge for consumables such as nappies and sun cream and for services such as trips. 

(March 2017)

Can I spread my 30 hours throughout the year?

The new 30 free hours' entitlement should be flexible. The phrase '30 free hours a week' is based on a childcare provider only being open for the 38 weeks during the year (term-time only). However, childcare providers will have the option to offer the same total number of hours (1,140 per year) over more than 38 weeks.

For example, if a childcare provider is open 48 weeks of the year, then they could offer 23.75 funded hours per week all year round. Or if a provider is open 51 weeks of the year, then they could offer 22.25 funded hours per week all year round. This is known as a stretched offer.

However, not all childcare providers may be able to offer the stretched offer.

Providers can claim the 30 free hours’ entitlement from their Local Authority using the following criteria (as of March 2017):

  • No sessions to be longer than 10 hour
  • No minimum session lenght (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
  • Hours - not before 6.00am or after 8.00pm
  • A maximum of two sites in a single day

No childcare provider can offer more than 30 free hours per week over fewer than 38 weeks.

If your child attends a childcare provider for more than the free hours available in a claim period, you will be responsible for these fees. You should also check whether there are any other additional charges such as for meals and snacks.

When do I have to reconfirm my eligibility for 30 hours free childcare?

If you have applied and/or claimed up to 30 hours of free childcare and/or Tax-Free Childcare, you must reconfirm your eligibility, this must be done even if your child hasn't started their 30 hours place. You must reconfirm your eligibility 3 months from the date you applied to receive the extra hours, this must be done every 3 months.

How do I reconfirm?

  1. You will get a text and/or email 4 weeks before your reconfirmation deadline. This will prompt you to log into your Childcare Service account.
  2. In the account you must go to 'secure messages'. You can access this section at any time. The section on reconfirmation will inform you of your reconfirmation date.
  3. You can reconfirm your eligibility up to 4 weeks before your reconfirmation date.

The reconfirmation process may differ for some parents. Such as if:

  • your circumstances haven't changed you will need to tick a box to confirm this. You will not receive a new code but the existing one will get extended for 3 more months
  • your circumstances have changed you must amend and resubmit your details
  • you completed your original application over the phone. You will need to phone the Customer Interaction Centre to reconfirm your eligibility on 0300 123 4097
  • you currently have a temporary code (these start with 11) you must complete a new application. You must do this through your childcare service account to get a permanent code

Updated - October 2017

You need to check your details are up to date every 3 months - https://www.gov.uk/sign-in-childcare-account

Who can I contact to find out more?

If you would like further information then contact the Family Information Service 0118 9373777 (option 2) or email fis@reading.gov.uk

Who do I contact if I am having problems completing the on line application form?

If you are having problems completing the on line application form, or have any queries in relation to the application process, please contact the Childcare Service Helpline - 0300 123 4097

Visit - www.childcarechoices.gov.uk 

How parents who've already applied for 30 hours can access their account?

Parents who have applied for 30 hours free childcare and/ or Tax-Free Childcare through the childcare service, but cannot recall how to access their account – and get their eligibility code, then please use the following link for guidance. 

How parents who’ve applied for 30 hours already can access their account