Currently, all families of three & four year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours Early Years Free Entitlement (EYFE) per week, for up to 38 weeks of the year. From September 2017 working parents of three & four year olds will be eligible for an additional 15 hours a week childcare which is being referred to as 30 Hours Free Childcare. If spread over a whole year, the current 570 hours of free childcare these parents get will increase to 1140 hours. This is statutory under the Childcare Act 2016 Opens in a new window.

In March 2017 the Department for Education (DfE) published new Early Education and Childcare Statutory Guidance for all Local Authorities Opens in a new window and the Model Agreement: Early years provision free of charge and free childcare Opens in a new window to be used from 1st September 2017.

Eligibility for 30 hours free childcare
The 30 hours free childcare is being introduced to support working parents with the costs of childcare and to help parents who would like to work more hours. Details of eligibility criteria and further information for parents are available from new Early Education and Childcare Statutory Guidance for all Local Authorities Opens in a new window.

Information for Parents and Providers

You can now find out more and check your eligibility for 30 Hour’s Childcare (and all other government childcare schemes) via the Childcare Choices  Opens in a new window website.
Childcare Choices allows you to:

  • check your eligibility for each of the childcare schemes
  • find out more about each scheme
  • sign up for a scheme or register for email alerts (if not available yet)
  • find out what you need to do next

The website allows you to select how much you earn, followed by whether or not you live with a partner. You will then be presented with your options highlighted in yellow (schemes you do not quality for will be greyed out). Under each available option you will see: “Is it for me?”. Selecting this will display further details and direct you to the relevant place such as online registration, calculators, email alerts, or GOV.UK pages.

View the Department for Education eligibility criteria for 30 hours free childcare  Opens in a new window

Once you have visited the Childcare Choices website (see Step above) and you have received your email confirming you can sign up, you will need to:

  1. You go onto the GOV.UK  Opens in a new window website to complete your application. If you don't have online access you will be provided with details of a help line number to contact to complete the application.
  2. Your eligibility is assessed based on the information submitted and HMRC data. If successful, you will be shown confirmation that an account has been created for you on the system.
  3. If you are eligible for Tax Free Childcare, you can start depositing funds into your account to receive the government top up and arrange payments to your registered childcare providers.
  4. If you are eligible for 30 hours, you can apply now and will receive an eligibility code into your secure account.
  5. You take the eligibility code to your chosen childcare provider to 'book' a place. The code will be validated by the childcare provider before a place is offered to your child.
  6. Upon successfully validating the eligibility code, the parent and childcare provider agree on a date when the provision will begin (no earlier than September 2017).
  7. Your child is admitted into the provision for the length of the validity period.
  8. You will receive notification to reconfirm your eligibility for 30 hours before the validity end date. You confirm that your circumstances have not changed since the initial application or update the application if it has.

When will it begin?
In Torbay 30 hours will start from September 2017. Some places in the UK have started this earlier. This is because they are attached to a pilot scheme.

Who will be eligible for 30 hours?
Both parents (or the sole parent, if a one parent family), will need to be in work and earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage. This will be inclusive of those families receiving tax credits or universal credit.
Eligibility will continue should a parent be away from work temporarily (sick or maternity). Families where one parent is working and the other has a disability or substantial caring responsibilities should also be eligible.

How can I find out if I'm eligible for 30 hours?
By visiting the the Childcare Choices website, a single point of information for all the government funded childcare offers (see Step above).

Is the offer term time only?
Some providers already offer childcare 51 weeks of the year. More might consider this option so that parents can find childcare that meets their needs. If the funded offer is spread across 51 weeks instead of 38 weeks term time only, then it would equate to an estimate of 22 hours per week.

What if childcare providers do not offer 30 hours?
Some providers may choose not to offer 30 hours of childcare, especially if a provider does not have the resources or staff to extend their services. You can look for other providers however, even those outside of Torbay. Each provider should have an admissions policy which will state which parents or children receive priority. Your 30 hours funding can also be split between two providers.

Will my unfamiliar working pattern put me at a disadvantage?
Providers are being encouraged to be flexible and explore ways in which they can meet the needs of their families. This could be easier for some providers than others depending on their location and facilities. Discuss your working patterns with your local providers to see which can accommodate you favorably. You could also use more than one provider and split the funding. (You would have to make sure that they are aware of this if you choose to do so).

I've heard other areas already have 30 hours funding.
Some places in the UK have started this earlier. This is because they are attached to the pilot scheme. Only 5,000 children in England are partaking to help the government further understand how 30 hours will work nationally. 30 hours funding will be available in Torbay from September 2017.

It is expected that 30 hours will be a part of the current funding process and Torbay Council will fund providers of childcare directly. This process should steadily improve to accommodate the changes that are being made.

More information and signing up

You can find out more about the provisions, including how to sign up for both 30 Hour's and Tax Free Childcare, via the Childcare Choices  Opens in a new window website.

Parents will be able to confirm eligibility directly via a government on-line checking service; this will issue them a unique code to pass onto their childcare provider. Parents will have to re-confirm eligibility every three months via this service. Childcare providers will need to use this code when claiming funding for 30 hours free childcare. As soon as the government's on-line checking service is 'live' we will let you know.

Talk to parents
Working with parents / DfE's 30 hour mixed model partnership TOOLKIT  Opens in a new window - guidance to help you start assessing demand, marketing, managing expectations and key communications messages.

Consider working in partnership with other providers to deliver
Partnerships / DfE's 30 hour mixed model partnership TOOLKIT  Opens in a new window - guidance to help you find out more about working in partnership with other providers, for example what you can do if you can't open for 30 hours.

Look out for local and national information
We will update you on this webpage and via regular email bulletins and work groups. Childcare Works are the government appointed organisation working on the implementation of 30 hours and will be updating their Childcare Works WEBSITE  Opens in a new window  website with current information and resources.

The rate that childcare providers will be paid for EYFE is £3.82 per hour for schools. Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) settings will receive £4.00 per hour from April 17 – April 18. From April 18, PVI settings will receive £3.82 per hour.

The rate is the same for all hours of EYFE for three and four year olds (there are not different rates for the first 15 and the second 15 hours).

In December 2016 we ran a consultation on the new national funding formula with childcare providers’ in Torbay and the responses can be reviewed here: Torbay Council Response to Funding Consultation Feb17.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA) has put together this  Funding and Delivery Guide final PLA  Opens in a new window .

The Early Years Team will advise providers of the following opportunities which will be arranged at regular intervals:-

Workshops - Getting 'business' ready for 30 hours
We are running workshops which will offer practical solutions for delivering the 30 hour entitlement:

Opportunities for providers to get together
It is important for providers to talk to each other and in some cases work together on offering the 30 hours. If you are organising any 'get togethers' please let the Early Years’ team know and we will help you promote them.

New Early Education and Childcare Statutory Guidance for all Local Authorities  Opens in a new window was published in March 17. This information will enable us to start thinking about provider agreements for offering 30 hours free childcare. The DfE carried out a consultation about the 30 hour free childcare entitlement in summer 2016 see ' Consultation Response  Opens in a new window ' here.

Early Implementers
Several Local Authorities have been piloting this offer since September 2016, they will be reporting back to the DfE about how this has worked, what lessons can be learned, before summer 2017.