Since September 2017, the government provides an additional 15 hours of free childcare each week to some working parents of 3 and 4 year-olds. This means that these parents are able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week.
Do I qualify for 30 hours free childcare?
You, and any partner, need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare:
- Earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
- This equates to £139.52 a week (or c.£7,255 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £131.20 a week (or c.£6,822 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old.
- This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
- The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
- Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
- Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to 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.
What hours are covered by the 30 hours?
Birchwood offers a core 30 hours to children who are attending Nursery/Preschool from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m Monday to Friday. Parents need to pay for a school lunch (£2.30 per day); packed lunches are not available. Additional hours can be purchased between 8 and 9 a.m. and between 3 and 6 p.m. Charges are on the website or on our Charges leaflet.
How do I secure a 30 hour place?
These places are limited and are in high demand. We therefore suggest that you:
- Speak to the Nursery/Preschool staff about places and register your interest.
- Apply for your eligibility code via the online eligibility checker available at: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk. You can do this 16 weeks before your child’s 3rd birthday, however if you currently receive tax free childcare we advise you call the helpline on 0300 123 4097.
- Bring in the 11 digit ‘eligibility code’ (along with your National Insurance number and child’s date of birth) so we can claim the 30 hours place. You will be asked to complete a Parent Declaration Form to enable us to process your application.
- Decide if you will need extra paid sessions e.g. breakfast, tea or holiday sessions
Please note that you will need to reconfirm your eligibility to the 30 hours free childcare every three months. Failure to do so will terminate your eligibility. If your circumstances change, you may lose your eligibility but your child will retain the 30 hour place until then end of the current term (the grace period).
When could my child start in a 30 hours place?
Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they turn 3 years old and have received a valid 30 hour code, whichever is later. Term dates are 1st September, 1st January and 1st April. Therefore a child with a date of birth of 10/06/17 who obtains their code before 31/08/20 would start in September 2020.
If you have no 30 hour places remaining, what options do I have?
All 30 hour places for September 2019 in the Nursery School (children whose date of birth falls between 1st September 2015 and 31st August 2016) have been allocated. If you have a 30 hour code you can ask to be placed on our waiting list should a place become available during the year. You will need to keep your eligibility active by reconfirming (see above).
You may wish to consider shared provision whereby you accept a 15 hour morning or afternoon place at Birchwood Nursery and use a local child minder to provide the remaining 15 hours. You will need to provide your eligibility code to both parties.
If your child’s date of birth falls between 1st September 2016 and 31st August 2017, you should speak to Birchwood Preschool about their 30 hour availability. You should also clearly indicate on the application form for Nursery admission for September 2020 that you want a 30 hour place and provide your eligibility code.