All 3 and 4-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free early education. From September 2017 there will be an additional 15 hours of free childcare available for families that meet the Government's eligibility criteria.
The government has set the following eligibility criteria:
- Both parents must be working - or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family
- Each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage
- Each parent must have an annual income of less than £100,000
More detailed information can be found on the GOV.UK website:
You may be in a position to offer the 30 hours within your current service, you may have additional unused space you could convert to offer extra places or you may consider working in partnership with another childcare provider to offer the full 30 hours.
To limit the risks to providers, any changes to the current service you offer should be based on sound market research and planning with an eye on continued sustainability of your service. The Childcare Sufficiency Team has estimated the demand for the extra 15-hour places across Kirklees which is summarised with other useful information to help you with your planning:
Graduated 30 Hour Development Business Advice from the Childcare Sufficiency Team
The Childcare Sufficiency Team can offer a degree of business advice to providers interested in developing their capacity to offer 30 hours of FEEC to working parents but due to limited resources can only do so on a graduated basis. With this in mind we have published information, toolkits and links to other useful websites to allow providers with the initial steps through a self-help approach.
Some providers may not require any further assistance after accessing this information but others may. The expectancy is that you will have prepared a business plan (which need not be of great length) and carried out your own market research in your local area, then formed an idea of local need and how you might either alone or in partnership be thinking of an offer to parents. We have developed a template which can be modified to suit your particular situation:
Once you have carried out your thorough market research (including parent surveys) you will be in a better position to plan services which enhance the sustainability of your organisation whilst meeting the needs of working parents.
Toolkits have been developed and these are available online to assist with a self-help approach to getting you up and running with your projects:
Application and funding process
Parents will apply online via HMRC, it is expected that the system will be in place from April. HMRC will have a dedicated helpdesk to support parents apply if they are unable to apply online.
Eligible parents will be given a code which will be valid for 3 months, parents will be asked to re-confirm their eligibility towards the end of the 3-month period. HMRC will send reminders to parents.
If a parent fails to re-confirm their eligibility or their circumstances change and they are no longer eligible, a grace period will apply. The child can continue to access the additional 15 hours during the grace period. The government has yet to make a decision on the length of this period.
The provider portal is currently being developed; we expect the system to work as follows::
- Parent will bring their 30 hours eligibility code, National Insurance (NI) number and a child's date of birth
- Providers will enter these details in the provider portal
- The portal links to the national checking system and confirm whether the parent/child is eligible, if they are eligible you will be able to claim up to 30 hours.
See Early education and childcare providers portal for more information and how to apply.