The government currently offers 15 hours per week childcare or early years education for all three and four year olds, and some two year olds.
The scheme is being extended to 30 hours per week for three and four year olds with working parents. If you have a child who is under 4 years old on 31 August 2017 (i.e. their date of birth is after 31/08/2013), you can apply now for 30 hours funded childcare starting in September 2017.
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Funded Early Education places are available to some two year olds from the first day of the new term following their second birthday.
If your child is eligible, they will receive up to 15 hours early years education per week at a private nursery, pre-school, maintained nursery school/class or accredited childminder in Warrington.
Funded Early Education places are available to all three and four year olds from the term after their third birthday until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).
Your child is entitled to 570 hours of childcare, which is usually taken as 15 hours per week, over 38 weeks the year.
Places are available at nursery classes/schools, private nurseries, playgroups, preschools or with an accredited childminder - as long as the childcare provider is registered to deliver early years education. The level of flexibility that is offered will depend on a childcare provider's individual circumstances.
Some conditions apply:
- The 15 hours must be spread over at least two days per week
- You can use a minimum of 2.5 hours and a maximum of 10 hours in any one day
- You can't use more than two childcare providers at any one time
- You can't use the hours before 7am or after 7pm
- You can't use the hours in blocks of less than half an hour
From September 2017 the majority of working parents of three and four year olds will be eligible for an additional 15 hours of Funded Early Education per week. You may have seen or heard it referred to as 30 hours free childcare.
To be eligible, both parents must:
- be working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family)
- earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at national minimum or national living wage (you don't have to actually work 16 hours per week, just earn an amount equal to or more than the minimum/living wage which is £120 per week if you're aged 25+, or £112.80 per week if you're aged 21-24)
- earn no more than £100,000 per year
It doesn't matter if you're employed, self-employed or on a zero hours contract, as long as you meet the criteria.
You're also eligible if:
- both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity, paternity or 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 the other 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.
You can find further information and advice on the new Childcare Choices website www.childcarechoices.gov.uk. Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time and makes it easy to find out what’s on offer.
Use the Childcare Calculator at www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator to see what offers are available to support you and your family.
If you are still not sure about your eligibility, contact the Childcare Service on 0300 123 4097.