Frequently Asked Questions for the 30 hours Free Childcare

Who will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare?

The eligibility criteria are as follows for families living in England:

Both parents are working (or the sole parent in a lone parent family is working) subject to the following criteria:

Each parent (or sole parent) has a weekly minimum income equivalent to at least 16 hours at national minimum wage/national living wage and neither parent (or sole parent) has an income of more than £100k per year.

Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, adoption, maternity or paternity leave, on statutory sick pay.

One parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring.

One parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits.

How will parents know if they are eligible for 30 hours free childcare?

There will be an online eligibility checking system via the website where parents can check their eligibility.  If the family are eligible they will receive, in most cases, an instant voucher code that they will then be able to take to the childcare provider of their choice to arrange a place.  We expect the government checking system to be available for parents to use from April 2017.  In the meantime you may want to keep a list of families who think they will be eligible using the criteria provided by Cheshire West and Chester to inform your intake for September 2017.

I have heard that parents need to keep checking if they are still eligible, how will I know what the outcome of this is?

Parents will need to recheck their eligibility through the online eligibility checking system at approximately 3 monthly intervals.  Parents will receive regular reminders, (texts and/or emails) letting them know they need to recheck.  Failure to recheck will result in a child falling out of eligibility for the 30 hours free childcare.  If, for a number of reasons, a child falls out of eligibility, you will be notified and a child will enter into a grace period before reverting back to the 15 hours universal funding, (see information on the grace period below).

What is the ‘grace period’?

If a family no longer meets the eligibility criteria the child will not lose their extended place immediately, they will be able to keep the place until the end of that term.  If the family are still not eligible before the new term starts the child can then either revert to a 15 hour universally funded place, or the parents can pay for the additional hours required over and above the 15.

Do I have to offer 30 hours every week?

No, the total funded hours for eligible families will be 1140 over the year and can be taken in a number of different ways:

Term time only – 30 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year

Stretched – approximately 22.25 hours for 51 weeks of the year
Any other combinations can be considered providing they are taken between the hours of 6am and 8pm for a maximum of 10 hours per session.

Can a parent use more than one childcare provider for their funded place?

Yes, a parent can split their funded hours with up to 2 providers in any one day.

Who can offer the 30 hours free childcare?

Any provider on the Ofsted Early Years Register can choose to register with the local authority to deliver the extended entitlement, including childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, pre-schools and nursery schools.  In addition, funded places can also be taken up by primary schools offering early years provision and childminders registered with an Ofsted- registered agency.

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