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Free Early Education and Childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Extended Entitlement (30 Hours Childcare) frequently asked questions

How many weeks of the year is 30 hours available for?

Working families are entitled to 30 hours in each of the 38 weeks of the academic year. Parents can choose to stretch this offer over up to 52 weeks of the year where this meets their childcare needs, for instance 22 hours a week for 52 weeks, or just under 24 hours for 48 weeks. This depends on if the childcare provider or childcare providers chosen by the parent are able to offer that flexibility.

Will the 15 hour entitlements continue?

All three and four year olds, and the most disadvantaged two-year olds, continue to be entitled to 15 hours early education a week.

Is it childcare or early education?

All funded provision must deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. There is no difference in the education and care standards which must be met for both the universal 15 hour and extended 30 hour entitlements.

Do providers have to offer 30 hours?

No. It is a provider’s choice whether they deliver the 30 hours entitlement or not. They can choose to offer some or all of the hours. Parents are free to shop around to find appropriate funded provision.

Who can offer 30 hours?

Day-nurseries, childminders and playgroups that are registered on the Early Years Register, and childminders registered with an Ofsted-registered Childminder Agency can deliver the 30 hours entitlement in full, or work in partnership with other providers to deliver part of it. Schools can also offer 30 hours. Parents will be able to split their entitlement across more than one provider.

How can sessional providers deliver 30 hours?

We encourage providers to work in partnership to offer 30 hours. For example, sessional providers who cannot offer 30 hours a week can work with childminders or other providers to offer wraparound care which meets the needs of working parents eligible for 30 hours.

Do parents have to take up the full 30 hours?

No, parents eligible for the 30 hours can take up any amount of childcare up to a maximum of 30 hours for 38 weeks of the year.

Can providers charge for meals?

Providers are able to charge parents for meals, nappies and discretionary items such as trips and additional teaching such as learning a musical instrument. However, these charges are voluntary and at the discretion of the parent and therefore cannot be a condition of accessing any free entitlement place. Providers should deliver the free entitlements consistently to all children accessing any of the free entitlements, regardless of whether they opt to pay for optional hours, services, meals or consumables. Please check with your provider for full details of any additional charges before you register your child with them.

How will providers know if a child is eligible?

Parents will apply online and will be given a unique code; they must give this code to their provider, along with their national insurance number and child’s date of birth, so that the provider can confirm with the provider portal that it is a valid code.

What if my chosen provider is full and they cannot offer the extra hours that I need?

Many providers in Coventry work in close partnerships with other providers in their local area to deliver early education and childcare provision therefore they may be able to signpost you to other local provision which can meet your needs. The Family Information Service will also be able to provide you with details of other childcare provision available within the area that you are seeking childcare.

When can I check if I am eligible?

Parents can apply online when their child is 2 years and 39 weeks old and if they feel they meet the other eligibility criteria. Your child will not be able to start attending the provider until the term after their 3rd birthday.

 Parents must apply within the time frames stated in the 30 hour process - 31 December for a January start date, 31 March for an April start date, 31 August for a September start date.

How do I access the childcare service account after I have applied?

Here is some guidance from the HMRC about how to access the account that would have been set up during the application process. Try to use the latest version of your internet browser. If after following the guidance and using the latest version of your internet browser, you can contact the number included in the guidance for further support.

When I become eligible am i always eligible?

Parents will have to reconfirm their details within 3 months of receiving a 30 hours eligibility code. Failure to do this could result in the parent entering a grace period and then losing eligibility the following term.

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