30 hours funded childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds

All three and four year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of funded early education or childcare a week, for up to 38 weeks a year, or 570 hours a year if ‘stretched’ from the funding period after they become 3 years old. This is known as the ‘universal entitlement’.

The government has extended this entitlement to 30 hours a week (for up to 38 weeks a year). In Somerset, families can ‘stretch’ this entitlement to a maximum of 1140 hours a year. This is known as the ‘extended entitlement’.

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Eligibility for the extended entitlement

Working* parents of three and four year olds will need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for up to 30 hours a week funded childcare:

This means you don’t have to actually work 16 hours a week but earn at least the equivalent wage rates.

*’Working’ will include the employed and self-employed, and people on zero-hour contracts, and people away from work due to statutory sick pay, maternity, paternity or adoption leave, and where one parent is working and the other is in receipt of benefits due to caring responsibility or disability.

Who will not qualify
Families will not meet the criteria when:

  • either parent has an income of more than £100,000
  • those that are not in paid work
  • either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)

How to apply
You must apply for the extended entitlement hours through Childcare choices or by calling 0300 123 4097 if you do not have access to the internet.

If you have any problems applying for the extended entitlement please ring the HMRC Helpline on 0300 123 4097.

You will need:

  • your National Insurance Number, and your partner’s National Insurance Number (if applicable)
  • child’s legal name and correct date of birth
  • a government gateway account

What to do if you are successful
If you are successful, you will receive an 11 digit code to take directly to a participating childcare provider. They will need your:

  • 11-digit eligibility code (begins with 500)
  • child’s legal name and correct date of birth  (please take birth certificate if possible)
  • parent name and their National Insurance Number

They will then gain your written permission to verify the code with the Local Authority. Once the code is verified, a place can be confirmed for the funding period after your child becomes 3 years old.

Please present your code to all providers that you are accessing your universal and extended hours funding. They will ask you to complete a parent’s declaration form to indicate who you are claiming the universal hours with, and the extended hours with. Please keep your copy for your records.

When can I start using my extended entitlement hours?

If your child’s third birthday falls between You need to apply, get a code and contact your childcare provider before Once your place is confirmed you can start using your extended hours from
1 September and 31 Dec 31 December 1 January (Spring)
1 January and 31 March 31 March 1 April (Summer)
1 April and 31 August 31 August 1 September (Autumn)

If you become eligible after the start of a funding period, you must wait until the following period to access your extended entitlement place. To be able to use your extended entitlement you will need to have made a successful application and received a code by the deadlines given. If you miss the deadline you cannot use the extra funded hours, but you will still be able to use the universal hours. For example, if you do not apply and receive a code by 31 August deadline you cannot use your extra hours in September you will need to wait until 1 January.

Funded 2 year olds and the Extended Entitlement
If you have been accessing your funded place for 2 year olds, and have been successful in applying for the extended entitlement will need to wait until the term after your child is 3 years old before you can claim your extended hours. You can still access the universal hours for 3 year olds without a break in funding.

Transferring to a new provider
If you move to a new provider, please present your code for revalidation to ensure there are no changes to your eligibility. Please also give them details of hours claimed at the previous provider. You will need to complete a new parent’s declaration form as well with your new provider.

Keeping your 30 hours childcare place
To keep your 30 hours place you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months. Check our reconfirming information for more details.

30 hours extended entitlement for children in foster care

Some children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old will be able to receive 30 hours of funded entitlement (for up to 38 weeks a year). In Somerset, families can ‘stretch’ this entitlement to a maximum of 1140 hours a year.

Children in foster care will be eligible if:

  • Accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan, and
  • Where there is a single foster parent family, the foster parent is engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent, or
  • When there are two foster parents in the same fostering household, both are engaging in paid work outside their role as foster parent.

How to apply
The offer for foster carers is by an application processed by us, and not through the Childcarechoices.gov.uk website.

Foster carers should talk to their social worker so they can discuss whether the offer will fit into the child’s care plan.

If they are successful they will receive a ‘400’ code generated by us, which lasts for 3 months. They will still need to give their written consent for checking and validating their code before being offered a place.

Apply for 30 hours funded childcare for foster children

This form has 5 pages and will take approximately 8 minutes to complete.

How do foster carers reconfirm?
Foster parents, like all other parents accessing 30 hours, are required to reconfirm their eligibility every three months. They will keep the same eligibility code after reconfirming.

Reconfirming is through the local authority and not by www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

We will need to be satisfied that the placement is still ongoing, that accessing the 30 hours is still consistent with the child’s care plan and that the foster parents are still engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent.

The grace period is the same.

Reconfirming your 30 hours and tax-free eligibility

You will need to reconfirm you are still eligible for 30 hours and Tax- Free Childcare every three months, using your childcare service account, even if you have not yet taken up your place. It’s easy to do; if your details have not changed you just tick a box to confirm this. You’ll be reminded to do this 4 weeks before the reconfirmation deadline. It’s important you let HMRC know if your circumstances have changed, as they will be checked against other systems.

If you miss the reconfirmation deadline, you will receive a message telling you that your eligibility has lapsed. You should go into your childcare account and reconfirm.

What happens if you reconfirm and are no longer eligible
If you are no longer eligible for 30 hours, you will enter a grace period where you may be able to retain your 30 hours of childcare place for a short period of time.

You will not be able to claim the extended entitlement if you start at a provider when you are already in your Grace Period.

Parent receives ineligible decision on reconfirmationGrace period end date
Between 1 January and 10 February 31 March
Between 11 February and 31 March 31 August
Between 1 April and 26 May 31 August
Between 27 May and 31 August 31 December
Between 1 September and 21 October 31 December
Between 22 October and 31 December 31 March

If the grace period has expired and you have not met the eligibility criteria again, you would only be able to access the universal entitlement (570 hours per year). You can reapply for the extended hours if you meet the eligibility criteria again in the future.

Your entitlement to the extended hours will stop

  • when your child reaches compulsory school age
  • when your child attends a reception place in a maintained school or academy

If you are no longer eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, you can still use the money in your account (including the top-up you accrued while you were eligible) to pay your provider. You can also continue to use your account to pay your provider in future, but you won’t get the government top-up.

Last reviewed: April 19, 2023 by Ian

Next review due: October 19, 2023

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