Working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds may be entitled to up to 30 hours of childcare for 38 weeks of the year, or you may choose to 'stretch' your hours by taking less hours over more weeks. This is an additional 15 hours of childcare on top of the universal 15 hours that all 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to.
As with the universal funding, the additional hours are available from the term after your child turns 3.
You can apply up to 16 weeks before your child turns three so that you have time to confirm your child's place with the childminder, pre-school or nursery they will attend.
You can use the 30 hours childcare in a range of ways - with up to a maximum of two early years settings per day. View the top tips on using your 30 hours childcare to find out more.
To check if you are eligible and to apply, you must go to the Childcare Choices website and create an account.
You must apply the term before your child turns 3 to ensure they are funded from the start of the following term. If you miss the deadline you will need to wait until the following term to be funded for the additional hours, but will still be able to use the universal 15 hours.
If you are eligible, the online system will send you an eligibility code which you must take to your childcare provider to secure your funded place. Not all childcare providers offer the full 30 hour entitlement - If you need help choosing childcare, view the finding childcare page.
How will this funded childcare affect my tax credits?
If you are eligible for 30 hours of funded childcare, this will reduce your monthly childcare costs and is therefore likely to impact on other benefits/tax credits you might be receiving. For more information about what is the best option for you, use the childcare calculator.
What is a grace period?
Although the universal 15 hours is available until your child starts school, you have to sign into your Childcare Account to reconfirm your eligibility for the additional 15 hours (i.e. the full 30 hours) every three months. You should receive an email/text message from the HMRC application system to remind you to do this.
If you do not reconfirm in time, you will fall into the grace period. That means your funding will end after a few more weeks - you can find out when by signing into your Childcare Account or checking with your childcare provider.
When you are in the grace period you cannot start your child in an early years setting using the funding, but if your child is already in an early years setting, the funding will continue until the end date of the grace period.
You must reconfirm your code before the end of the grace period or the additional 15 hours funding will stop. This means you will have to pay for any hours your child is cared for above the universal 15 hours and reapply for the full 30 hours to start from the beginning of the following term which can leave you with a significant gap in funded hours.
The council does not have any funding to cover childcare hours if you do not renew your code in time.