30 Hours Free Childcare: Things You and Your Parents Should Know
Written By Dr James Huntington
In order to enable parents, where they wish, to return to work or to work additional hours the government is rolling out funding to support 30 hours free childcare.
In addition to the universal offer of 15 hours free early education entitlement most working parents of three and four year old children may be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week - totalling 30 hours free childcare.
Both entitlements can be delivered over 38 weeks (i.e. school term time) or the equivalent number of hours can be stretched across more weeks of the year.
Any childcare provider who is registered with Ofsted on the Early Years Register, including nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups, and some children’s centres may provide the places. It also means that Ofsted registered breakfast clubs; out of school; holiday clubs and childminders may be partners in providing free childcare places for working parents.
Am I eligible?
Not all parents are eligible for the extra 15 hours. However, everyone will still receive the 15 hours free childcare that is currently available.
To be eligible for 30 hours:
• You must live in England;
• Your child is 3 or 4 years old;
• Both parents must be working - or the sole parent is working in a single parent family;
• Each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. The minimum amount will always reflect the lowest hourly rate that a person of your age can legally be paid. This information can be found online;
• Each parent must have an annual income of less than £100,000.
Furthermore, parents can check their eligibility via the Childcare Choices website using its useful childcare calculator.
When does it start?
The scheme is to begin nationwide in September 2017.
How to I apply?
You can now apply for 30-hour free childcare online via the Childcare Service.
When you apply, you'll be asked to enter your name, address and National Insurance number, whether you expect to meet the income requirements over the next three months and whether you are in receipt of any benefits. Your partner will also need to fill in this information if necessary. This will enable HMRC to let you know whether your child is eligible for the 30 hours free childcare.
If you're eligible, you'll receive a code to take to your childcare provider and arrange your childcare place ahead of September 2017. You will also need your National Insurance Number and child’s date of birth. Your childcare provider or council will check the code is real and allocate your child a free childcare place.
Furthermore, if successful you will have to reconfirm their details quarterly - to ensure all information held is up to date.
Please be aware not all settings will offer the flexible 30 hours free childcare, it’s important to check with your local childcare providers. Also, some settings may charge for 'extras'.