To check if you are eligible for any support with childcare costs, visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Funded childcare places
All 3 and 4 year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of funded childcare. This is usually taken as a maximum of 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year, in line with Leicestershire’s school term dates, but can be taken as fewer hours over more weeks. Some 2 year olds are also eligible.
How do I claim the 15 funded hours?
The 15 funded hours are universal for all 3 and 4 year olds, so there is no application process involved.
Firstly you will just need to check that your chosen childcare offers funded hours (most will but there are some that don’t).
If they are registered to offer funded places then they should ask to take a copy of your child’s birth certificate and get you to complete a Parental Statement of Undertaking (PSOU) form. This short form gives consent for them to claim your child’s funded hours, and allows you to specify which days/times you wish to use them on.
Please be aware that children only become eligible for the funding in the period following their 3rd birthday e.g:
- Child turns 3 between 1 April – 31 August = eligible for funding from 1 September
- Child turns 3 between 1 September – 31 December = eligible for funding from 1 January
- Child turns 3 between 1 January – 31 March = eligible for funding from the 1 April
30 hours funded childcare - check if you’re eligible
The extended entitlement is intended to support working parents with the cost of childcare and enable them to return to work or to work additional hours.
Working parents who meet the criteria can get 30 hours per week (for up to 38 weeks per year, a total of 1140 hours) of funded childcare.
If you're having difficulty completing an eligibility check or have a query about the result, you should contact 0300 123 4097.
30 Hours funded childcare for foster parents
Children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old are now be able to receive an additional 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of childcare - a total of 1,140 hours funded childcare per year, if the following criteria are met:
- Accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan; and
- Where these is a single foster parent family, the foster parent is engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent; or
- Where there are two foster parents in the same fostering household, both are engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent.
Foster parents can claim 30 hours the term after their foster child turns three and they have received an eligibility code from the local authority.
Three- and four-year-olds can start in a 30 hours place from the 1 September, 1 January or 1 April. Foster parents can apply up to 16 weeks before their foster child turns three.
Foster parents will need to reconfirm every 3 months with their social worker, that they are still working outside of their role as a foster parent.
In the first instance foster parents should contact their social care worker to find out more and to apply.
If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child.
If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.
Choosing good quality childcare
Quality Childcare helps children to:
- become more confident
- learn through play and have fun
- learn new words and extend their vocabulary
- experience new activities and learn new skills
- problem solve and test out their ideas
- learn independence and get ready for school.
Finding a Childcare Provider
You can choose from:
- Pre-schools and Playgroups (sessional care)
- Childminders (at home)
- Day nurseries (part-time and full time care)
Childcare providers are registered with Ofsted who gives them one of four quality grades:
- Requires improvement
How do I choose?
Things to consider when choosing quality childcare:
- Can children be active and play freely?
- Are activities fun and inviting?
- Do children look happy and involved in their learning ?
- Are the adults playing with the children?
- Do you think your child would be safe, well cared for and happy here?
- Is the Ofsted report available to view?
What might I need to find out?
You will need to feel happy and confident about your child’s education and care. It is good to ask questions. Here are some ideas:
- Who will be caring for my child?
- How do I know my child will be safe?
- How will they know what my child wants/needs?
- How do I find out about my child’s day?
- What happens if my child doesn’t settle or is ill or has an accident?
- What do I pay for?
Did you know?
Your local children’s centre can help you in finding an early years provision.
Using your 30 hours
If eligible, you can:
- use up to 30 hours per week
- split your hours over more than one provider
- use a maximum of 10 hours in any one day
- only use hours between 6am and 8pm
- use the 30 hours as part of a stretched offer, banking hours to use in the holiday periods if your provider offers this
Using more than one provider
You can spread your funded hours between a maximum of 2 settings per day. The council will work out how the funding payments are split between providers based on the information submitted by the setting. Where parents are taking up a place for an eligible 2 year old, the council would suggest that only one provider is used.
If you've got a concern
If you're worried about the way in which your funding is being managed you should first talk to your provider, and if you have an ongoing issue please email: firstname.lastname@example.org