30 hours free childcare | Oxfordshire County Council

30 hours free childcare

Working parents may be eligible for an extra 15 hours childcare a week from September 2017.

How it works

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year of free early education.

Families where both parents/carers are working (or one if a lone parent) and earn at least the equivalent of minimum wage for 16 hours a week but under £100,000 per year may be eligible for 30 hours (from September 2017).

Please be aware that the entitlement to a free place does not offer a guarantee of a place at any one provider or a particular pattern of provision.

Check if you are eligible and sign up to 30 hours childcare and/or tax free childcare

Parents who need assistance to apply, or who do not have access to the internet, can call the childcare services Customer Interaction Centre on 0300 123 4097 and apply over the phone.  Parents who complete their original application over the phone will need to phone the Customer Interaction Centre to reconfirm their eligibility.

It is worth noting before you start that both parents (unless a lone parent) will need
• National Insurance number
• if you're self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference
• the date you started, or are due to start work
• details of any other government support you get
To register an account a parent also needs a copy of either their passport, a payslip or their P60 .

A parents guide to accessing 30 hours childcare

How do I find a childcare provider that is offering the 30 hours?

What happens if I become ineligible for the 30 hours

If you become ineligible for the 30 hours funding, there is a period of 'grace' that you keep funding for. This provides continuity for you and your child and minimises disruption should there be a temporary change in your circumstances, for example, if you are between jobs.

Date parent or carer receives ineligible decision on reconfirmation: Grace period end date:
1 Jan – 10 Feb 31 March
11 Feb – 31 March 31 August
1 April – 26 May 31 August
27 May – 31 August 31 December
1 September – 21 October 31 December
22 October – 31 December 31 March

Your  3- 4 year old will still be entitled to 15 hours of funded childcare even if you are not entitled to the 30 hours.

Is the 30 hour offer all year round?

The entitlement is for 30 hours over 38 weeks (term time) of the year.  This is equivalent to 1140 hour per annum.  Some providers may allow the total hours to be stretched across the year.

Do all providers have to offer 30 hour places?

Childcare providers can decide if they want to offer 30 hour places or continue to offer 15 hour universal entitlement places. Some may offer between 15 and 30 hours.

Do I have to take the 30 hours in one place?

Some families might find splitting the entitlement suits them well and you can do this as long as the child is at no more than two sites in one day. So you could have a term time only place for fewer than 30 hours a week and use the remainder to cover a holiday club. Or you might want to keep your child with a valued childminder but start to access some of the free entitlement at a school nursery so that they get to know children they may soon be starting school with.

Can I insist on a certain pattern of hours?

Childcare providers can decide when they offer the funded hours.  This should be made clear in their prospectus and on their website.  Parents cannot insist on a certain pattern of hours.

My childcare provider has their funded sessions in the morning and afternoon and the lunch hour has to be paid for.  Can they do this?

Childcare providers can decide when they offer the funded hours.  They cannot make ‘paying for a lunch hour’ a condition of accessing a free place.  They must offer parents the option of collecting their child at lunch time.  This should be made clear in their prospectus and on their website.  Parents cannot insist on a certain pattern of hours.

Will school nurseries be offering the 30 hours?

This will be decided by the individual schools. Please search the Family Information Directory to find  your local school nursery providers  and those specifically who have indicated they are offering 30 hours.

My childcare provider has a limited number of 30 hour places.  Can they do this?

Yes providers are not obliged to offer the full 30 hours.  You can use any hours above what is being offered at another childcare provider.

I only want to use 20 hours of my funding a week but my local school only offers 15 or 30 hour places.  Can I insist that my child only attends for 20 hours?

Schools can decide on a set offer.  This should be made clear in offer letters and on their website.  Parents cannot insist on a certain pattern of hours.  To search for alternative providers 

Will I have to pay anything towards my childcare?

If you access more than 30 hours per week you will have to pay for the extra hours.  You may also have to pay for additional costs such as snacks, meals nappies, trips etc.

How will I know what I am being charged for?

This should be made clear before you take up a place. Your invoice should also show which hours are free and those that are charged for.  The invoice should also include any additional charges for meals, snacks, nappies etc.  You should not be charged ‘top up’ fees (the difference between a provider’s usual fee and the funding they receive from the Local Authority).

I have been asked to pay a deposit for a free 30 hour place next term. Is this allowed?

Yes, providers can charge a deposit to secure a place.  When your child takes up the place the deposit must be returned.

I have been asked to pay a registration fee.  Can providers do this?

Registration fees can only be charged if you are accessing paid for hours in additions to your free funding

Last reviewed
26 June 2017
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