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All 3-and 4-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’ in the funding period after they become 3 years old. This is known as the ‘universal entitlement’.

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

How families apply
Families must apply for the extended entitlement hours through Childcare Choices or by phoning 0300 123 4097.

Parents can access their entitlement at up to 3 providers, so you don’t have to be able to offer the full 30 hours to claim the extended entitlement.

Do I need to register?
Yes, please email if you haven’t already registered and will be claiming extended entitlement places.

The entitlements team can assist with queries on 01823 357039.

How it works

A summary of the process is available on our Extended Entitlement Flowchart.

More detailed information is included in the Department for Education Department for Education (DfE) Operational Guidance which explains the process.

The universal and extended entitlement hours will be paid to childcare providers at the same hourly rate and using the same claims process.

Validating Codes

  • You must verify the validity of a code before confirming a space.
  • You must have written permission from the parent before you verify their 30 hours code with the entitlements team.  An example consent form is available to adapt or use. This gives the details you must capture.
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How do I verify a code?
Our online 30 hours code checker is now live. If you do not yet have a login or password please contact the entitlements team for a registration form.  All codes must be validated using the online checker and you will need:

  • 11-digit eligibility code (begins with 500)
  • child’s name and date of birth
  • parent name and their National Insurance Number.

Please read the guidance notes on how to use the 30 hours code checker.

There is no need to send in a copy of your consent form. You must retain any consent for future records.

When parents start using their extended entitlement hours

The offer is available from the funding period after the child is 3 years old, or the funding period after they receive their eligibility code.

See the 30 hours funded childcare table at full width
If your child’s third birthday falls betweenYou need to apply, get a code and contact your childcare provider beforeOnce your place is confirmed you can start using your extended hours form
1 September – 31 December31 December1 January (Spring)
1 January – 31 March31 March1 April (Summer)
1 April – 31 August31 August1 September (Autumn)

To be able to use the extended entitlement parents will need to have made a successful application and received a code by the deadlines given.

If they miss the deadline, they cannot use the extra funded hours, but they will still be able to use the universal hours.

For example, if they do not apply and receive a code by 31 August deadline they cannot use extra hours in September and will need to wait until 1 January.

If parents become eligible after the start of a funding period, they must wait until the following period to access your extended entitlement place.

Funded 2 year olds and the extended entitlement

Families that have been accessing their funded place for 2 year olds, and have been successful in applying for the extended entitlement will need to wait until the term after their child is 3 years old before they can claim the extended hours.


Please see Reconfirming your 30 hours and tax-free eligibility.

Eligibility for the extended entitlement lasts for a period of 3 months. Parents will need to reconfirm through their childcare service account.

You do not need to inform the entitlements team when a parent has successfully reconfirmed. You will be able to monitor their expiry dates on your 30 hours online checker expiration dashboard.

If a parent doesn’t reconfirm, or they are no longer eligible, a ‘grace period’ is applied. The DfE Operational Guidance provides an explanation for the grace period. You can identify these parents on your 30 hours online checker expiration dashboard.

If a parent is still not eligible or reconfirmed after the grace period, the funding will stop.

Last reviewed: September 18, 2023 by Paul

Next review due: March 18, 2024

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