Early Help & Childcare

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Early Help

The purpose of Early Help is to prevent any issues from getting worse by offering support at the right time. Any professional working with your family, such as those based in schools, health services, and in voluntary sector organisations, can offer Early Help services as soon as they can see that advice, support and/or intervention may be needed.

CLICK HERE - Early Help works best when it is offered to the whole family and when services are delivered jointly by professionals. Early Help is everyone’s business.


Types of childcare

Things to consider when choosing childcare

To help you choose childcare, visit with your child while the other children are there.  Think about what's important to you and your child, this list may help you:

  • Are you made welcome?
  • Are the children happy, settled and busy, and do they appear to be enjoying the activities?
  • Are staff talking and listening to children and answering them carefully and sensitively?
  • Are staff friendly and proud of their work?
  • Do staff make sure that the children are playing safely?
  • Are staff joining in with what the children are doing?
  • Are there plenty of clean toys, books and equipment for the children to use?
  • Are the play activities child-led?
  • Do the activities take into account the children’s ages, cultural background and any special needs?
  • Are the premises, toys and equipment clean, well kept, secure and safe for children?
  • Are there lots of fun activities planned to help children learn and play?
  • Are the children’s achievements celebrated through sensitive displays of their work?
  • Are all children valued and respected?
  • Do children have access to outdoor play?
  • Where relevant, is information available about the Early Years Foundation Stage?
  • Are you provided with any information about services and policies, e.g. fire drills, medical emergencies? Find out how many staff are qualified in first aid, and how they would contact you in an emergency.
  • If it's a childminder, do they have public liability insurance?  Discuss any particular concerns such as pets and allergies.  Ask how they ensure all the children in their care are treated equally. 
  • If your child is young and needs a rest during the day, ask where the sleeping area is and at what times the children sleep.
  • Ask if they provide snacks and drinks and are meals healthy and balanced.
  • Ask for contact details of other parents whose children are, or have been, at the setting so that you can follow up any references.
  • Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children? Are you encouraged to share your knowledge of your child with the staff?
  • What are the procedures for a mutual sharing of information about your child?

Imagine how it would feel if you were your child.  Go more than once if you’re not sure.  You should feel comfortable about your decision.  Remember, you know your child best.

And make sure they are registered - Ask to see their Ofsted registration and inspection certificate.

If you are looking for childcare for your child who has additional needs or disabilities, download the inclusion checklist.  You can save this to your phone or print it off and take it with you to any childcare settings you visit.

Becoming a Childminder

Childminding allows you to work from your own home to provide care and learning opportunities for other people's children.

More and more parents are looking for good quality childcare. They're also looking for childcare that's flexible enough to meet the needs of their busy lifestyles and cater for differing work and shift patterns. Lots of parents need childcare outside the usual Monday to Friday, nine until five routine.

Is childminding for you?

As a childminder, you'll be self-employed and running your own business. You have to be registered with Ofsted and you must work to the same regulations as other childcare settings.

We run free Childminder pre-registration briefing sessions that provide information to help you decide whether childminding is the right career for you and here are the details of forthcoming sessions:

Wednesday 10th July 2019, 6.30pm to 9.00pm

Thursday 5 September 2019, 6.30 to 9.00pm

Contact us if you want to attend one of the sessions. Once you've attended you can book onto our childminder induction course before you register as a childminder.

What you'll need to become a childminder

To become a childminder you need to:  

  • be over 18 years old
  • attend the free childminder pre-registration briefing session
  • attend a childminder induction course (12.5 hours over a 5 week period, £55)
  • complete a Paediatric first aid course (£60)
  • meet the Ofsted registration requirements
  • be DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked and have annual update checks. Anyone over 16 living or working at your address will also need to be checked (£65 per person, payable to Capita)
  • have a health check with your GP (cost variable, payable to your GP)
  • be registered by Ofsted (£35 payable to Ofsted)
  • be registered to care for up to six children, including your own under eight year olds, depending on the size of your home
  • be insured for public liability (variable costs and packages)

Once you become a childminder

You'll be able to choose when and what time you'll offer your sessions. You'll need to offer flexible hours that parents using your service will be looking for, and come to an agreement that suits their needs.

Some childminders offer weekend and even overnight care. If you decide to offer this, you'll need to state this on your Ofsted registration certificate.

Charging for your service

You can set your own charges and fees for your service and receive payment directly from parents. We can give you an idea of the average prices that childminders may charge for the area. You can also be registered with Warrington Borough Council to deliver funding childcare to 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Contact us online or call 01925 443131

How we support you

We offer childminders:

  • childminder pre-registration session and induction course
  • on-going advice and support from our information and early years teams
  • support to help you prepare for your Ofsted registration visit (and subsequent inspection visits)
  • early years training programme
  • free early years network meetings
  • childminder drop in sessions at local children’s centres
  • free advertising through the Family Service Directory

Information for childcare providers

If you're a childcare provider, take a look at the information for providers section.

2 year old Funded Early Education

Some two year old children can access a funded place from the term after their second birthday if their circumstances meet certain eligibility criteria you can find out more and check to see if you are eligible at www.warrington.gov.uk/twoyearfunding

3 & 4 year old Funded Early Education

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 all types of childcare providers as long as they are registered to deliver early years education places.  The level of flexibility that is offered will depend on a childcare provider's individual circumstances

30 hours Extended Entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds

The majority of working parents of three and four year olds could be eligible for an additional 15 hours of childcare per week. You may have seen or heard it referred to as 30 hours funded childcare.

The eligibility criteria are as follows;

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national living wage, and less than £100,000 per year.

Working will include employed and self-employed people. Parents do not necessarily have to actually work 16 hours a week, but their earnings must reflect at least 16 hours of work at the national living wage. This includes parents on zero contract hours who meet the criteria

  • 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.

Having a 30 hour code does not mean your child is eligible to start their 30 hour place. The table below explains the cut-offs dates by which you must have a valid code to start your place in the next term.

If your child's third birthday falls between:

  • 1 September – 31 December
    *Think about applying around mid- October
    Application deadline is 31 December
  • 1 January – 31 March
    *Think about applying around mid-January
    Application needed is 31 March
  • 1 April – 31 August
    *Think about applying around mid-June
    Application deadline is 31 August

The date your child becomes eligable for a funded place:

  • Spring Term
    In the January after their third birthday with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 December
  • Summer Term
    In the April after their third birthday with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 March
  • Autumn Term
    In the September after their third birthday
    with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 August

You can find further information and advice on the Childcare Choices website here https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/. Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place. Use the Childcare Calculator at www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator to see what offers are available to support you and your family.

To check your eligibility and complete an application to receive your 30 hour code confirming your eligibility, go to the Childcare Choices website today at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.

If you experience problems finding out your eligibility or have questions, you can contact Childcare Service Customer Interaction Service on 0300 123 4097.

30 hours funded childcare for foster carers

Children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old may be able to get 30 hours funded childcare.

This is an extra 15 hours on top of the 15 universal hours that all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to.

Accessing 30 hours will not be appropriate for every child in foster care. Speak to your foster child’s social worker about whether it is right for your foster child before completing the form.

If you are eligible, you do not have to take up the full 30 hours.


You will usually be able to get 30 hours funded childcare if:

  • accessing the 30 hours of childcare is consistent with the child's care plan and
  • you (and your partner, if you have one) are working outside your role as a foster parent.

The work must be paid work (not voluntary) but there are no rules about the type of work (which includes self-employment) or number of hours that foster parents must work.

There is no minimum or maximum earnings limit for foster carers. If your partner is not a foster carer they will need to meet the national eligibility criteria (regarding hours and earnings).

You will also meet the criteria for working foster parents if:

  • In a two parent household, where both parents are foster carers and one is in paid employment and the other can demonstrate they get qualifying benefits
  • In a two parent household, where one parent is a foster carer but the partner is not a foster carer. The foster carer is in paid employment and their partner meets the ‘normal’ eligibility criteria parents have to meet (income threshold of up to £100,000 and working minimum of 16 hours equivalent to minimum/living wage) or can demonstrate they get qualifying benefits.

How to apply

1. Speak to your foster child's supervising social worker.

You should start to discuss 30 hours childcare as the child approaches their 3rd birthday or when you (or your partner, if you have one) decide to take up additional work. For more information see the section below about when to apply.

These discussions should normally happen as part of your usual supervision meetings and review process.

2. Complete the application form

Download it from the right hand side of this page

The child's supervising social worker should also sign the form and send it to the email address that’s on the application form.

You will need to show the social worker evidence that you are in paid employment, such as recent pay slips or a tax return form.

3. Wait for your eligibility code

We will send you an 11 digit code by email to take to your chosen childcare provider.

Your code will have a start date and an end date. You should make a note of the end date as this is when you will need to reconfirm your eligibility.

4. Reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months.

Your eligibility will be reassessed every 3 months. The supervising social worker should be satisfied that the placement is on-going, that accessing the 30 hours is still consistent with the child’s care plan and you are still engaging in paid work outside your role as a foster parent.

If you are no longer eligible, speak to your childcare provider about the 'grace period'. This is a set period of time to support you to continue accessing funded childcare while you look for other employment should you choose to do so.

When to apply

You can claim 30 hours the term after your foster child turns three.

If you do not confirm your eligibility and receive an 11 digit code by the date listed below, you will not be able to access your additional hours until the start of the next term.


Child's birthday                             Can access a place from                            Application completed and sent by:


1 January to 31 March                  1 April                                              31 March

1 April to 31 August                      1 September                                  31 August

1 September to 31 December        1 January                                        31 December

Family Support

Family Support in Warrington is delivered by a dedicated team known as Family Support Workers.

We will work with your family from an early stage to support you to manage those difficult and challenging times in your family life.  This can include debt, disability, housing issues, domestic abuse, poor mental or emotional health, substance misuse, anti-social behavior and neglect.  We do this by offering an initial home visit to look at what is needed for your family and by completing an Early Help Assessment.  We also use the Graded Care Profile (GCP2) to ensure that our support is tailored to your family’s needs.

Our aim is to:

  •        Support families with children aged 0-19 years old with complex/ multiple needs and disability.
  •        Assess needs, helping families to identify what works well for them and where there may be a support need.
  •        Act as the lead professional for families, being a point of contact for other professionals.
  •         Offer parenting advice and working within the family to improve the confidence and self-esteem of children, young people and parents/carers
  •        Be a positive role model and advocate for children and young people in Warrington
  •        Listen to the views of families and their children voices to provide the right support for the whole family.

To refer for Family Support please complete a MARS form at Report abuse of children and young people | warrington.gov.uk

Other support

Other Government support for childcare costs can be found at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and looking at the Tax Credits, Universal Credit, Support While You Study sections on this page.