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FAQ - The Extended Early Education and Childcare Entitlement for Working Families (30 hours)

Childcare Choices - Apply now if you want 30 hours free childcare from January

What is the Extended Entitlement?

All 3 and 4 year old children currently receive 570 hours of funded early years provision per year from the term after they turn 3 years old (universal offer). This equates to 15 hours per week over 38 weeks.

The extended entitlement for working families will enable eligible families to receive an additional 570 hours of provision. This could be accessed through any Ofsted registered early years provider.

    When will additional hours become available?

The Wokingham Borough extended entitlement has been available since September 2017.

Childcare Choices - Apply now if you want 30 hours free childcare from January

    When are children eligible to claim?

Children become eligible to claim a free early years place from the start of the term following their
third birthday until they become statutory school age.

  • A child born between 1 January and 31 March is entitled to claim from the start of the summer term
  • A child born between 1 April and 31 August is entitled to claim from the start of the autumn term
  • A child born between 1 September and 31 December is entitled to claim from the start of the spring term

In order for your child to qualify for the 30 free hours from September 2017, they must have turned 3 years old on or before the 31/08/2017.

Childcare Choices - Apply now if you want free childcare from January

    Who will be eligible?

The eligibility criteria have been set by the Government. In order to be eligible the child must be at
least three years of age, under compulsory school age and the child’s parent(s) meets the eligibility
criteria set out below:

  • The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
  • The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should also be in qualifying paid work. Each parent or the single parent in a lone parent household will need to expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or their national minimum wage rate over the forthcoming quarter. This is equivalent to about £120 per week or £6240 per year.
  • Where one or both parents are in receipt of benefits in connection with sickness, maternity leave or paternity leave, they are treated as though they are in paid work.
  • You can still apply if you or your partner is temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if you are in the military (on duty).
  • You can also still apply for the extended entitlement if either you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of the following benefits:
    • Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
    • Carer's Allowance
    • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
    • Severe Disablement Allowance
    • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
    • You have been assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purposes
  • Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months in order to qualify for the extended entitlement.
  • If either or both parents’ income exceeds £100,000 they will not be eligible for the extended entitlement.
Childcare Choices - To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you need to check your details every 3 months

    What if I am a foster carer?

Foster carers need to apply though the local authority in order to receive the extended hours for their foster children. Please contact the Early Years Team for more information and an application form. 

Early Years Team contact details

Telephone: 0118 908 8260

    What if I have remarried or have a new partner?

If you have remarried or are living with a new partner, you and your new partner must both be working in order for your child to be eligible.

    What happens if we are on zero hours contracts?

As long as you meet the income criteria of 16 times the national minimum/living wage per week (around £6250 per year) you will be deemed eligible by HMRC and will be able to access the additional hours.

    How do parents apply for the extended entitlement?

The process for applying for the extended entitlement will be through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The website allows you to apply for both the additional hours and the new tax free childcare account directly with HMRC. If eligible you will be given an Eligibility Reference Number. Give this reference number to your chosen childcare provider, who will then ask you to complete the Wokingham Borough Parental Agreement Form. If you are splitting your funded hours between two providers please give both childcare providers the Eligibility Reference Number and confirm the number of hours to be funded through each provider.

You will have to reconfirm your eligibility through the website on a three-monthly basis.

If your circumstances alter and you are no longer eligible you will enter a grace period before your child’s funding is reduced to the universal 570 hours per year.

Visit the UK Government website to apply and for further information.

If you have any queries in regards to the online application process please contact the HMRC helpline on: 0300 1234 097

30 hours free childcare - Check your details every 3 months

    Do all providers have to offer the extended hours?

No. Some providers will not be able to offer the additional hours due to restrictions on their premises. Others may choose to remain offering the universal offer (15 hours). Individual providers do not have to offer the full day and can select their opening hours to meet local need. If providers are unable to offer the additional hours themselves they may choose to work in partnership with other providers so that the hours are split over more than one setting.

Visit the Wokingham Borough services directory for details of which providers are offering the additional hours.

Childcare Choices - Log in to your childcare account every 3 months to check your details are up to date

    Do the additional hours have to be taken during term time only?

No. Some providers are already offering the funded hours all year round. Others are considering doing this for the additional hours. An example of this would be if the hours were taken over 50 weeks the offer would be for around 22 hours per week. It is up to each individual provider to decide how they are going to offer the additional hours. Providers are able to decide which hours they accept funding for as long as the full entitlement is made available throughout the year.

    Will parents need to pay anything for these hours?

There should be no charge for accessing funded hours. Providers are able to charge for additional services. This may include providing hot food, nappies, wipes or additional hours outside of the funded ones. If providers choose to offer additional services they must clearly tell parents what they are being charged for and are not allowed to make it a condition of having a funded place. For example if a charge is made for a hot lunch, parents must be given the option of bringing a packed lunch free of charge.

    Will the additional hours be made available for children with additional needs?

The government is committed to ensuring that children are able to access the provision that is right for them and their families. Additional funding has been made available for providers to ensure they are able to offer the additional hours if families request it.

    Where can I find out further information?

If you have any further questions please contact the Early Years, Childcare and Play team on 0118 9088260 or at or visit 30 hours free childcare on the UK Government Childcare Choices website

Childcare Choices - log in to your childcare account every 3 months to check your details are up to date

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Wokingham Services Directory Disclaimer

The Service Directory includes information and links to third party internet websites which are controlled and maintained by others, information is provided solely for guidance and does not constitute any endorsement. Wokingham Borough Council is not responsible for the accuracy of the information on the directories and information is not provided as a recommendation of suitability or quality of service.