Frequently asked questions for parents

The existing 15 hours of childcare a week, for all 3 and 4 year olds, will be referred to as the universal entitlement. The additional 15 hours of funded childcare a week, for the working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, will be referred to as the extended entitlement. 

What is the 30 hours (extended entitlement)? 
How can I apply for the extended entitlement for my child? 
Am I eligible to receive the extended entitlement? 
Where can my child access the extended entitlement? 
How will I know if a childcare provider will be offering the extended entitlement? 
How can the extended entitlement hours be used? 
If I am eligible, and my child is 2 years old, when can my child start to receive the extended entitlement? 
Can I access the extended entitlement for a child I foster? 
What happens if I no longer meet the eligibility criteria? 

What is the 30 hours (extended entitlement)? 

Currently, all 3 and 4 year old children living in England are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and child care a week, for 38 weeks a year starting the term after the child’s third birthday. This equates to 570 hours in the academic year. This is known as the universal entitlement and is claimed through an Ofsted registered childcare provider. 

The government has committed to extending the amount of free early education and  childcare from 15 to 30 hours a week for children of working families who meet the eligibility criteria. This means that eligible families will be able to access up to a total of 1,140 hours of free early education and childcare a year. In Kingston and Richmond, this will usually be referred to as the extended entitlement. The extended entitlement will be implemented across England from September 2017. 

How can I apply for the extended entitlement for my child? 

The Childcare Service System has now gone live for parents. Parents wishing to access the 30 hours free childcare entitlement from September, will now be able to check their eligibility and apply using the system. If you do not have online access, you can contact the HMRC helpdesk to support you with the application process on the following number: 0300 123 4097. 

Childcare Service System

You will need to declare your earnings to find out if you meet the criteria of the income threshold. If you are eligible, you will be given an eligibility code to take to the childcare provider of your choice that offers the extended entitlement. 

You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months, via the online system, to continue accessing the extended entitlement. A reminder will be sent to you by HMRC one month before your eligibility period ends. 

You can use the parent journey diagram to help you understand the application process. 

Download the parent journey diagram

Am I eligible to receive the extended entitlement? 

All 3 and 4 year olds will continue to be eligible for 15 hours a week of free early education. This is a universal entitlement for all children starting the term after their third birthday. 

The extended entitlement is in addition to the universal entitlement, providing an extra 15 hours a week of free childcare, for families that meet the eligibility criteria. It will be made available to families where:

  • both parents are 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 Living Wage, or if under 25 years of age, the equivalent of 16 hours at National Minimum Wage
  •  each parent has an income of up to £100,000 a year
  • The extended entitlement will also be made available to families where:
  • both parents are employed but one, or both parents, is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity leave
  • both parents are employed but one, or both parents, is temporarily away from the workplace on adoption leave
  • both parents are employed but one, or both parents, is temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay
  • one parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring
  • one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits.

Please note:

  • parents on zero hours contracts will be able to access the extended entitlement if they meet the eligibility criteria
  • parents that are newly self-employed (i.e. in a start-up period) do not need to demonstrate that they meet the eligibility criteria for the first 12 months

Use the flow chart to help you determine if you meet the criteria for the extended entitlement. 

Download the flow chart

Where can my child access the extended entitlement? 

Childcare providers on the Ofsted Early Years Register can offer the extended entitlement although they may not choose to participate in offering the extended hours. Childcare providers include childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, pre-schools, nursery schools, schools with nursery classes and out-of-school providers.  Nannies will not be able to offer the extended entitlement as they are not on the Early Years Ofsted register.

You are able to take up the extended entitlement hours across a maximum of two sites in one day (this includes different types of provision on one site). This is to support the wellbeing of your child by minimising the number of transfers experienced in one day. 

By setting the limit over one day, you are able to use a combination of providers at different points in the year, for example using a holiday club during the school holidays. 

How will I know if a childcare provider will be offering the extended entitlement? 

You will need to contact the childcare provider of your choice to find out if they are delivering the extended entitlement and if there are places available. 

How can the extended entitlement hours be used? 

The extended 15 hours entitlement will be implemented across Kingston and Richmond in September 2017. The extended hours can be used as flexibly as possible over the year. There is no requirement for them to be taken on a particular day of the week. However, you will not be able to have: 

  • more than 10 funded hours a day 
  • funded provision any time before 6am or after 8pm 
  • more than 30 funded hours a week 
  • more than 1,140 funded hours a year

If I am eligible, and my child is 2 years old, when can my child start to receive the extended entitlement? 

Children who are eligible for the extended entitlement can receive the extra free hours from the start of the term following their third birthday:

Child born between Can receive free hours from 
1 September 2013 to 31 August 2014 September 2017 (Autumn)
1 September 2014 to 31 December 2014 January 2018 (Spring)
1 January 2015 to 31 Match 2015 April 2018 (Summer) 
1 April 2015 to 31 August 2015 September 2018 (Autumn)

 

Please note, children who are eligible for the extended entitlement will be able to access the extended entitlement the term after obtaining the eligibility code. Parents that think they are eligible should apply for a code the term their child turns three to ensure that they can access the extended entitlement the following term. For example, if a child turns 3 in November, parents will need to apply for a code during that term in order to be able to access the extended entitlement from January. 

Can I access the extended entitlement for a child I foster?

As a foster carer, you are not eligible for the extended entitlement for the children that you foster. You are only eligible for the extended entitlement for your own children, if you meet the eligibility criteria.

‚ÄčHowever, the children that you foster are still entitled to access the universal 15 hours of childcare. 

What happens if I no longer meet the eligibility criteria? 

If your family no longer meets the eligibility criteria, your child will not immediately lose their childcare place for the extended entitlement, as there will be a grace period to give you the opportunity to regain employment. If circumstances change during the grace period, you can reapply again and if eligible your child can continue to receive the extended hours. 

The grace period dates can be found below: 

Date parent reconfirms

If no longer eligible, grace period end date

1 January – 10 February

31 March

11 February – 31 March

31 August

1 April – 26 May

31 August

27 May – 31 August

31 December

1 September – 21 October

31 December

22 October – 31 December

31 March

 

 

After the grace period, if you still do not meet the eligibility criteria, your child will no longer be able to access the extended entitlement, but will still be able to receive the universal 15 hours a week (570 hours a year) of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds.