All children aged 3 - 4 years are currently entitled to 15 hours per week free childcare over 38 weeks, or less hours per week over more weeks up to a maximum of 470 hours per year. This is known as the Universal entitlement.
What is the 30 hours offer?
The new 30 hours of free childcare is known as the extended entitlement. It is an additional 470 hours per year for 3 and 4 year olds of working parents. This means that eligible children can access up to 1140 hours of government funded childcare per year.
Who is eligible?
To qualify, each parent (or the sole parent in a single parent family) needs to:
- earn, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at National Minimum wage or National Living Wage;
- earn less than £100,000 per year
Self-employed parents or parents on zero hours contracts will be eligible if they meet the average earnings criteria.
Eligibility in families where parents do not work
Families where one parent is not in paid employment, or neither parent works, will ususally not be eligible for the additional hours. There are however the extended entitlement will be available for families where:
- Both parents are employed but one (or both) is temporarily away from
- parental leave
- maternity leave
- adoption leave
- sick leave
- One parent works and one parent is in receipt of benefits relating to significant caring responsibilities
- One parent works and one parent is in receipt of specific benefits relating to disability or incapacity
Foster carers are eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the earning or carer criteria for thei own children however they are not eligible for the children that they may foster.
Parents who are studying or in training will not be eligible unless this is combined with paid work which meets the minimum average earnings threshold.
When to apply?
The date you can apply depends on your child's birthday. Your child is eligible:
- from the term following their 3rd birthday until they reach compulsory school age
- as long as they are not in a Reception class
Applications for each term will need to be made by the relevant deadline dates:
Spring Term - 31st December
Summer Term - 31st March
Autumn Term - 31st August
For more information visit the Goverments Childcare Choices website.