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’.
You can find information on Somerset Choices about the providers offering the extended entitlement.
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:
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:
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:
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 with. 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?
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.
If you become eligible after the start of a funding period, you must wait until the following period to access your extended entitlement place.
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.
Some children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old will be able to receive 30 hours 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:
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 in 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 to validate their code before being offered a place.
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 the foster parents are still engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent.
The grace period is the same.
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.
Sign in to your account
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 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.
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
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.
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