When raising a child can be expensive, getting 30 hours free childcare can be a lifesaver. In this article, we cover how you can find out if you qualify and how to apply
In 2017 the government doubled childcare hours to 30 Hours free childcare from 15 hours. But what exactly are parents entitled to and how does it work?
What free childcare hours can i get?
Many working parents of children aged 3 to 4 years are eligible for 30 hours of free childcare per week. Fifteen hours of free early education per week will still be available under the current rules.
However, parents will only qualify for the additional free children for 38 weeks per year – the equivalent to school term times. Depending on your childcare facility, it may be possible to use fewer hours of free childcare per week. You could then spread them out over a longer period.
Am i eligible for free childcare?
The rules on who can receive the 30 hours of free childcare are:
- You must live in England
- Your child must be aged 3 to 4 years old
- Both parents must be working
- In lone-parent families, the single parent must be working.
- Each parent’s average earnings must be either: at least the equivalent to 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage. Or National Living Wage rate (currently £115.20 for an adult aged over 25).
- Each parent must earn no more than £100,000 per year
I don’t work. Can i still apply for the extra 15 hours free childcare?
In families where one or both parents are not working, they will usually not be eligible for the additional hours. However, exceptions are made for parents who are on parental, maternity, paternity, adoption or sick leave.
How do i apply for 30 hours of free childcare?
You can apply for the 30-hour childcare scheme through an online application by HMRC. Follow the HMRC steps to getting childcare. On the HMRC site you can:
- Find out what help you can get with childcare costs for your circumstances,
- Search for nurseries, childminders and free early education where you can get childcare
- Getting help paying for the childcare
- What to do if and when your circumstances change
- Find out what to do when your child reaches school age
Do all nurseries and childminders offer additional hours?
While most attempt to offer parents the full 30 hours, not all are able to do so.
The nursery industry had concerns that the grant supplied by the Government. will not cover the full cost of the scheme. This means that nurseries may opt-out of the scheme. They can choose to ask parents to make up the shortfall. They can ask to pay for their child’s lunches or making a weekly voluntary donation.
The Department for Education is clear that the scheme is restricted to working families. This is to encourage parents to go back to work. Be aware If you’re getting 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare. You’ll have to confirm your details are up to date every 3 months.
Speak to your child’s current or intended childcare facilitator to find out whether they take part in the scheme.
While you’re here, we’d like to invite you to Join Babies and Children. It’s free to join as a Baby member and there are benefits to joining. We’re a new website for parents and we plan to add to the benefits as well as adding paid levels of membership for even more benefits in the future.
Find out more here