The term after a child turns 3 years old they become eligible for Early Years funding, either a maximum of 15 hours per week or 30 hours per week, for up to 38 weeks of the year, depending on their circumstances.
Children eligible for the 30 hours funding are those matching the following criteria:
- Both parents are working (or sole parent in a lone parent family)
- Each parent earns, or expects to earn, the equivalent to 16 hours National Minimum Wage or Living Wage over the coming 3 months (approximately £120 per week)
- The claim is during or after the term following the child’s third birthday and the child is under compulsory school age
- Where parents are separated, eligibility applies to the parent with whom the child normally lives
- The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work
- The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should be in qualifying paid work
- Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months in order to qualify
- Where one or both parents are in receipt of benefits related to sickness, parenting/caring, incapacity or limited capability for work they are treated as though they are in paid work
- The parent has been generated an eligibility code in the term prior to the claim
A parent will not meet the criteria when:
- Either parent has an income of more than £100,000
- Either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)
For more information and to check and apply for your eligibility code visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Parents are responsible for checking their own eligibility online and will be generated an eligibility code which they need to give to the nursery. A grace period will operate for children who become ineligible. The code will be valid for 3 months and parents will be required to reconfirm eligibility every 3 months on the website.
The entitlement will be offered by the nursery in 3 hour slots (as oppose to 2.5 hour slots for the 15 hour funding). A maximum of 6 hours can be claimed in one day. The entitlement will be offered over 38 weeks of the year.
The funded hours will be as follows:
- Morning session - 8.45am to 11.45am
- Afternoon session - 1.45pm to 4.45pm
If a parent chooses for their child to attend the full session during funded weeks, 3 hours of funding can be claimed per session and used to reduce the cost.
If a child solely attends the hours given above for a minimum of 4 sessions a week they will only be charged in the non-funded weeks when the full session fee will be applicable. During non-funded weeks the child will be able to attend the full session time; 8.30am to 1.00pm for a morning and 1.00pm to 5.25pm for an afternoon but this will be charged at the normal nursery cost.
When booking a place a parent must decide if they wish their child to attend either the full session or only the funded hours. Two months’ notice will be required to make any changes. (Please see the current timetable to see the present cost of both a funded and non-funded full session).
Parents will be asked to complete an application form each term supplied by the nursery where they will need to include the eligibility code they were given when applying online. The nursery will then use this information, including validating the code, to make a claim to the Local Authority. The LA will then pay the nursery directly and the nursery will adjust the parents’ fees accordingly. All eligibility codes must be obtained in the term prior to the claim in order to qualify for the funding.
This policy was reviewed in November 2021.