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3 and 4 year old funding (15 hour Universal and 30 hour Extended offers)

Early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds is delivered in safe, caring and fun  Ofsted registered provisions who deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.

The Universal Early Years offer available to all 3 and 4 year olds, offers up to 15 hours funding a week during term time, or up to 10/11 hours of funding a week as a stretched offer.

The Extended Early Years offer for working parents of  3 and 4 year olds, offers up a top of funding with 30 hours funding available a week during term time, or up to 20/22 hours of funding a week as a stretched offer.

Child’s birthday

When your child can start early education funding

1 January to 31 March

The beginning of Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

The beginning of Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

The beginning of Spring term on or after 1 January

15 hour Universal funding for 3 and 4 year olds

Parents of all 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for the universal 15 hour offer and do not need to make an application.

Your chosen early years provider will be able to advise you about vacancies, start dates and any fees and charges before you decide to join them.

You will be required to sign a contract and may be required to pay a deposit.

30 hour Extended funding for 3 and 4 year olds (working families)

Parents can begin accessing up to 30 hours childcare, from the start of the next term after they receive their eligibility code.  Parents are therefore advised to check the earliest date they can apply as soon as possible with their chosen childcare provider.

Families will be eligible if: 

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family)
  • Each parent earns on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW)
  • Each parent earns less than £100,000 per year. 

Families will remain eligible if: 

  • One parent is working and the other has a disability or substantial caring responsibilities.
  • A parent is away from work temporarily (sick leave or maternity/adoption leave).
  • A grace period has been put in place by government to assist parents whose employment circumstances change.

Parents will not be eligible for up to 30 hours childcare if the parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds).

4 year old children in a Reception class are not eligible for 30 hours childcare.

Applying for 30 hours childcare and receiving your 30 hour eligible code

Parents can apply for both 30 hours childcare and Tax Free Childcare at the same time via the Childcare Service.  Once registered for the Childcare Service, parents can:

  • Apply for and reconfirm their entitlement to 30 hours childcare and Tax-Free Childcare
  • Start paying into your children's Tax-Free Childcare accounts and use it to pay for childcare costs

Most parents will be informed straight away if they are eligible for up to 30 hours childcare and will receive their 30 hours code.  Some parents may be required to provide further information before their account set up is completed. 

I have a valid 30 hours eligibility code, what next?

Please take your 30 hours code to your early years provider, in order for your provider to check that the code is valid, you will also need to provide them with:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Proof of child’s date of birth

The provider will check the 30 hours code is valid and confirm when the code is valid from and too and childcare place availability.  It is the parents responsibility to reconfirm their code when prompted by the Childcare Service and to inform their provider at the earliest opportunity if they are no longer eligible for 30 hours childcare.

Parents with chilcare service account or 30 hour code queries, should contact the Childcare Service 0300 123 4097.

3 and 4 year old early years funding film

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