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Additional 15 hours’ free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds for working parents

Last Updated 15/07/2019

All 3 & 4 year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare and early education a week for up to 38 weeks a year.  This provision can be accessed in school nursery classes, private day nurseries and Pre-schools and also with childminders. The additional 15 hours childcare entitlement is a new scheme to help working families with the cost of childcare called Tax-Free Childcare

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Additional 15 hours childcare for working parents

Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week.  This funding will only be made available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

Parents can check their eligibility here.

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions about the extended entitlement.

If you have any additional questions, please contact:

ey@westminster.gov.uk 



Q1. What is the 30-hour free childcare entitlement?

A: Currently all 3 & 4 year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare and early education a week for up to 38 weeks a year. Children can access this entitlement in school, Nursery classes, private Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and with Childminders. The Government has increased the free hours from 15 to 30 a week for eligible working parents.

Q2. Will I be eligible?

A: The additional 15 hours will only be made available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

Therefore, to be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child is aged 3 or 4 
  • You work more than 16 hours per week
  • You have an annual income of less than £100,000
  • You live in England

Q3. When will my child become eligible for the funding?

A: Your child will become eligible for the funding at the start of the school term after their third birthday.

Children born in the period

Become eligible for funding at the start of term beginning or following

School term

1 January - 31 March

1 April

Summer

1 April - 31 August

1 September

Autumn

1 September - 31 December

1 January

Spring

Q4. How do I check my eligibility and get a code?

A: Eligibility will be checked by HMRC via a website  and will be based on actual income earned.

Q5. Where can I take up my free entitlement?

A: The offer can be delivered by a range of providers which include:

  • Childminders
  • Nurseries
  • Nursery classes in schools and academies
  • Nursery based in a Children’s Centre
  • Private day nurseries, Playgroups and Pre-schools
  • services that offer the "30 hours" can be found using the keyword search in this directory. 

Q6. Will I have to pay for anything?

A: Your child’s entitlement is FREE, providers cannot charge for the free entitlement or any top up fees, for example registration fees or uniform. However, providers can offer additional services which could be subject to charges, but they must make parents fully aware of any additional charges that apply prior to them taking up their free place.

Parents/carers should be clearly billed so that they can clearly understand:

  • Free entitlement
  • Any additional hours or charges for services 
  • Parents/carers should be offered a choice of providing a packed lunch where the provider charges for lunch. A place must not be offered on the grounds that you have to pay for additional hours or services.

Q7. Can I take my child’s entitlement during school holidays?

A: Yes, some providers may offer a ‘stretched entitlement’ which allows you to use less hours a week over a longer period of time.  In addition, you may use up to 2 different providers to meet the needs of you and your child per day. 

Q8. If I have just moved to England and my child is not a British Citizen, will my child be eligible for 30 hour entitlement?

A: Children moving to England from another country can access a place on the same basis as any other child in the Local Authority area, providing they meet the relevant eligibility criteria. 

Q9. Special Educational Needs - is my child still eligible?

A: Providers have a responsibility to ensure all children have full access to the EYFS. They must offer support for children accessing their provision with a disability or identified special educational need. To ensure the needs of your child are fully met, we encourage you to discuss your child’s needs or any initial concerns with your provider.

There will be funding available to support SEN children to have full access to the EYFS. The new Disability Access Fund is equivalent to £615 per child per year to support access to free entitlements.

3 and 4 year olds will be eligible for the Disability Access Fund if they meet the following criteria:

  • The child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and
  • The child receives free early education 

Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children.

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