Parents urged to check eligibility for 30 hours of free childcare
Working parents looking for help with childcare costs are being reminded that from September 2017 they could be entitled to an extra 15 hours of free early education/childcare for their three- and four-year-old.
Parents with children up to the age of four wishing to access the 30 hours free childcare entitlement from September are now able to apply using the government’s new childcare service website.
Parents who think they might be eligible must apply through the website, not through the council or their childcare provider.
Parents who meet the eligibility criteria will receive a confirmation letter containing a unique reference code. They need to take this letter to their childcare provider who will then use the code to claim their 30 hours free childcare.
Neville Ward, early years manager with Shropshire Council, said:
“At present all three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free early education over 38 weeks. This has been in place for some time, is universal and parents do not need to apply.
“However, from September 2017 the Government will be doubling the amount of free childcare from 15 to 30 hours a week for working parents of three- and four-year -olds.
“Unlike the existing universal 15 hours, the introduction of the 30 hours extended entitlement means that working parents must apply and be eligible, so we need to get this important message out to parents.”
To be eligible for the 30 hours extended entitlement, both parents must be working (or the sole parent be working in a lone parent family). Each parent/or lone parent needs to be earning, on average:
- a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW)
- less than £100,000 per year
See www.childcarechoices.gov.uk for full details regarding the eligibility criteria.
Parents can also check what help they could get with their childcare costs at www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator.
From September 2017 parents who are eligible will be able to access the additional free childcare with Ofsted-registered childminders, schools, pre-schools, full-daycare nurseries and out of school clubs who have an Ofsted judgement of ‘requires’ improvement’, ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
The provider must have confirmed their intention to provide funded places with Shropshire Council. Parents will be able to use the additional free childcare with either one, but no more than two childcare providers, and can choose to use the additional hours during term time only, or include before and after-school hours, or spread the 30 hours across the year, up to a maximum of 10 hours per day. Parents will need to discuss the hours they would like their child to attend with their provider, and remember to ask about their charging policy for any additional hours their child may use over and above the free entitlement or services. Not all childcare providers will be able to offer the additional free hours.
When will a child be eligible?
From September 2017, a child is entitled to the 30 hours additional free childcare from the term after their third birthday, or from the term after their family becomes eligible. Parents need to check to see if they are eligible the term before the funding starts for the additional hours.
When you can claim
1. Child’s birthday falls between 1 January and 31 March
You can claim from the start of the summer term following their third birthday.
2. Child’s birthday falls between 1 April and 31 March
You can claim from the start of the autumn term following their third birthday.
3. Child’s birthday falls between 1 September and 31 December
You can claim from the start of the spring term following their third birthday.
Because employment circumstances may change from time to time, parents will receive a prompt every three months from HMRC to reconfirm their details so that their eligibility can be re-assessed.