30 Hours Free Childcare / Tax Free Childcare - information for professionals

This information below is about the introduction in September 2017 of an additional 15 hours of free childcare for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

This information is for:
All local support services, groups and other stakeholders who offer support and advice to parents for example: Health Visitors, Community Nursery Nurses, Family Hub staff, Early Years Professionals, Job Centre Plus, Schools, Early Years Practitioners in the childcare sector – childminders, day nurseries, sessional providers, out of school clubs and other staff in related professional fields working with families. 

How can you help?

  • You directly work with parents and families meaning you have an important role in bringing the new 30 hour offer and benefits of childcare to their attention.
  • Use the ‘Top Tips’ below and read the key messages in the 30 hours update information sheet which is in the downloads and resources section to increase your knowledge and support you help raise the awareness and benefits to families across Doncaster. 

Top Tips:

1) Promote the key messages – be familiar with the messages, actively promote them where possible and deliver them consistently in an engaging, positive and supporting manner.  Promotional material will be available and distributed in May.  If you would like someone to attend your team meeting to give a briefing on the 30 hours rollout including the opportunity for a question and answer session, please see the contact details at the end of this sheet. 
2) Know your audience – you already know the families you work with, so the chances are you will know what benefits or motivates them or which way will be the most supportive for them to access the information they need. This could be to find out if they are entitled to a free place or where and how they can take it up.  Consider your language and try to keep to the consistent terminology that is being used around this offer to avoid confusion. 
3) Childcare Choices: The government’s new Childcare Choices website will provide all the information a parent needs to understand what is available to them and it includes a Childcare Calculator which will help parents to compare all the governments childcare offers and check what works best for their family On the website, parents can click on a link which will take them through to the application page for both the 30 hours entitlement and Tax Free Childcare.

How can Families Information Service Help?

  • Parents can find contact details for childcare providers on the Directory of Funded Providers and schools that provide free places for 2, 3 & 4 year olds through carrying out an online search or emailing for information
  • Childcare brokerage support can be provided to parents that need extra help to find childcare that meets the needs of their particular family circumstances
  • Information on the 30 hours free entitlement, 2 year old free places and other ways to find help with childcare costs will be available on the Doncaster Councils Families Information Service website 

Website:

www.doncaster.gov.uk/FIS

Telephone:

free phone 0800 138 4568 or 01302 862136

Email:         

fis@doncaster.gov.uk

 

 

Childcare Choices:

To support parents to decide which childcare offer will best suit their family, the government’s new Childcare Choices website will provide all the information a parent needs to understand what is available to them.   Through the website parents can sign up for an email alert that will notify them when they can apply, as well as providing details of existing childcare offers.  The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator which will help parents to compare all the governments childcare offers and check what works best for their family. 

Website:

https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk 

 30 Hours FAQ's

The free childcare entitlements are:

  • 15 hours early education per week, term time. This is a universal entitlement for all 3 & 4 year olds which seeks to support school readiness and child development.
  • 15 hours early education per week, term time for eligible 2 year olds. This is for families that meet the eligibility criteria and aims to give a 2 year old the chance to play, learn and have fun, make friends, experience different activities and build their confidence in preparation for school.
  • 30 hours free early education per week, term time, from September 2017: This is for 3 & 4 year olds from working families that meet the eligibility criteria. The 30 hours free place will consist of: the current 15 hours universal entitlement for all 3 & 4 year olds which will be extended by an additional 15 free hours. The additional 15 free hours will be known as the ‘extended entitlement’. The extended entitlement aims to support working parents and parents wishing to take up work or increase their working hours and will create a saving for eligible working families of up to £5,000 a year. 
Please note: Eligible working families are entitled to 30 hours in each of the 38 weeks of the school academic year. Some childcare providers choose to stretch this offer over a longer period which can be up to 51 weeks of the year.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility Criteria:  Working parents includes: employed, self-employed and workers on a zero hour’s contract.

To take up the 30 hours of free childcare from September 2017 families need to meet all the following criteria:

  • Each parent earns less than £100,000 per year
  • Both parents are working and in a lone parent family the sole parent must work
  • Each parent works a minimum of 16 hours a week or earns on average a weekly minimum amount that is equivalent to 16 hours a week at either the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage (which will be £120 a week based on National Living Wage from April 2017) 

There are exceptions to both parents having to work.  Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be entitled to the additional 15 hours of free childcare; however, they will be eligible where:

  • both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on: parental, maternity or paternity leave; adoption leave; or on statutory sick pay
  • one parent is employed and one parent:
    • has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring
    • is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

 Applications from parents on a zero hour’s contract and the self-employed will these be assessed as follows:

Zero hours contract and self-employed:  although the criteria are based on earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week, there is no requirement to work any particular number of hours or to earn any particular amount each week.  Parents need only to expect to earn the stated amount on average over a 3 month period (which will be £120 a week based on National Living Wage from April 2017).  HMRC will request information through the application process (see below for the process) which may include previous earnings.

New self-employed parents: it is recognised that many small businesses struggle to generate a regular income when they first start up.  Therefore to support newly self-employed parents they do not have to meet the minimum income rule in their first year of trading.  This ‘start up’ period should remove the pressure on parents to predict future income in the earliest months of their business. 

When can parents apply to find out if they are eligible for the 30 hours free childcare?

Parents can pre-register for the governments new childcare offers through the Childcare Choices government website: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk  Through the site  they will be able to sign up for an email alert that will notify them when they can apply, as well as providing details of existing government childcare offers.  The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator which will help a parent undertake a comparison of all the governments childcare offers and check what works best for their family

 

 What is the application process for the 30 hours free childcare place?

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are managing the 30 hours process and the online application form can be accessed through a link on the governments Childcare Choices website: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk    If a parent needs assistance to apply or are experiencing problems with the online application process Telephone:  0300 123 4097 for the customer interaction centre. 

A child’s eligibility will be determined by HMRC and if the parent disagrees with the eligibility outcome there is a review and appeals process which is managed by HMRC.  

The parent will need to reconfirm their details every 3 months to prove they still meet the eligibility criteria.  HMRC will manage this process and send out email and/or text reminders to parents about the need to reconfirm their eligibility before the deadline. 

When a parent first applies to HMRC the validity period is unlikely to be exactly 3 months long and there are various reasons for this:

  • The system will randomly set a ‘Validity End Date’ between the 7th and 22nd of the month
  • Parents currently on childcare vouchers who agree to come off them get an extra month
  • There are some exceptional circumstances that can extend and shorten the initial validity period, for example, siblings will have their ‘Validity End Dates’ aligned to allow a single validity period for all children 

When a parent reconfirms their eligibility the extension to the validity period will be exactly three months long.

Please Note:  The governments IT and administration systems for the 30 hours childcare is being managed by HMRC, therefore parents must deal directly with them for the application and reconfirmation process.  The local authority, schools and childcare providers are not involved in this part of the 30 hours process and can only signpost parents to the Childcare Choices website and customer interaction centre.

Eligibility Codes

  • When a parent application for the 30 hours is successful they will receive an 11 digit eligibility code starting with ‘5000…’   This code is for a parent and child combination, therefore multiple birth siblings will each have their own code.

  • There may be a small number of parents who are issued with a temporary 11 digit eligibility code which will start with ’11….’   A parent with a temporary code will be issued with a permanent eligibility code when they reconfirm their details with HMRC at the end of the 3 month period. The permanent eligibility code is the one they will use going forward.

  • Both the ‘Permanent’ and ‘Temporary’ eligibility codes are valid and must be presented to the school/childcare provider for a validation check to be undertaken.

  • At the end of the application process the website/customer centre informs the parent the eligibility code will be emailed to them.  Parents sometimes mistakenly think it will be emailed to their own email address, however it is sent directly to the parents’ online HMRC account.  Parents do forget how to access their online account and a step by step ‘Parents Guide to access code – Aug 2017’ has been produced to help them.  This guide can be found in the ‘Parents’ section on the Families Information Service website: www.doncaster.gov.uk/fis

A child falls out of 'eligibility' BEFORE they have actually started:

In some circumstances parents may apply for 30 hours free childcare or receive their eligibility code more than three months before the start of a term.  Schools/childcare providers should offer a place to the parent on the assumption they will remain eligible.  If the parent does fall out of eligibility during the reconfirmation process, the provider will be informed by the local authority before the start of the term.  This would mean the child is no longer eligible to take up the 15 hours extended entitlement from the beginning of the term, however they would be entitled to receive the 15 hours universal entitlement.

Please Note: For September 2017 only if on reconfirmation a parent has lost their eligibility before the 1st September they will be allowed to access the 30 hours free childcare up to 31st December 2017 (Andy Todd, Head of the 30 Hours Implementation Team at DfE)

The 'customer journey' for the parent:

  • The parent applies through the HMRC online application system and receives an eligibility code
  • They identify their preferred school/childcare provider and find out if they offer 30 hour places and if they have any vacancies
  • The parent needs to know the admission arrangements and administration process at the school/childcare provider they have chosen - this will include completing a Parent Declaration Form
  • The school/childcare provider will carry out a check to validate the eligibility code
  • When the code has been validated the child’s place can be confirmed and a start date agreed
  • Eligibility codes will be valid for a 3 month period and parents will be asked to reconfirm their details with HMRC every 3 months and declare any changes to their circumstances

The school/childcare provider role:

  • To communicate clearly and positively information about the 30 hours free childcare offer, regardless of whether a school/childcare provider offers 30 hour places and signpost to the Families Information Service if a parent requires information or support around where their child can take up a free place
    • Have clear and transparent administration and admission arrangements for the 15 hour extended entitlement places
  • Ensure a Parent Declaration Form is completed by the parent and signed, to:
    • authorise the school/childcare provider to undertake a validation check on the parents eligibility code and claim funding on their child’s behalf
    • understand and check the total number of hours stated does not exceed their entitlement (the child may be attending more than one provider for the 30 hours)
  • Undertake a validation check on the eligibility code
  • Ensure the child meets both of the following criteria before confirming a place with the parent:
    • a child is eligible to start their 30 hours place the term following their third birthday
    • or the term following the date they received their code, whichever is later

Please Note: the ‘Validity Start Date’ is the date HMRC confirm a parent’s eligibility

Validity Start Date and child is three years old on or before the following date

Date from when a child can take up their 15 hour extended entitlement place

31st August

1st September

31st December

1st January

31st March

1st April

 


  • Before the child takes up a place, provide the parent with clear information about what choices they have with regards to: the service provided; on what days and times it is available; what the cost will be for additional hours, meals, consumables and additional services (if applicable)
  • The expectation will generally be the place for the 15 hours extended entitlement will be provided for the whole period the child is entitled to their Universal 15 hours place. The local authority will inform the school/childcare provider if a child is no longer eligible for their place.  A grace period will apply and an end date will be given. 
  • Date parent receives ‘not eligible’

    decision on reconfirmation

    Grace period end date

    1st January to 10th February

    31st March

     11th February to 31st March

    31st August

    1st April to 26th May

    31st August

    27th May to 31st August

    31st December

    1st September to 21st October

    31st December

    22nd October to 31st December

    31st March

     

It is the school/childcare providers' choice whether or not they offer 30 hours free childcare places:

It is up to each individual school and childcare provider to decide if they will offer the 30 hours free places.  This decision may be based on whether they have any spare places for 3 & 4 year olds or have the capacity to create new places.  In addition there is a cost and sustainability factor to be taken into consideration.   The decision for schools/childcare providers on whether or not to offer the 30 hours free childcare will have been taken after consideration to business and financial planning. 

 

The 30 hours can be provided by more than one provider:

Yes.  There is no limit on the number of providers a parent can use, however the 30 hours will be limited to two sites in a single day.  This is to avoid the potential impact on a child with regards to multiple transitions between sites.

School Nurseries - admission arrangements:

15 hours universal place: The majority of schools use Doncaster Council to administer the admissions process. Therefore the schools Admission procedure for the universal 15 hour place that is an entitlement for ALL 3 year olds will remain the same, in that the parent submits an application form for a nursery place to the Council, who will then write to the parent informing them which school nursery their child will have a place at.  The Admissions Service will allocate places up to the nursery Pupil Admissions Number (PAN) for the school.

15 hours Extended Entitlement place: For a child who is eligible for a 15 hours extended entitlement place, the school will identify their own administration and admissions arrangements to allocate places.  Clear and transparent policies/procedures can support a smooth running system and reduce challenge from parents. 

 

A 'flexible' childcare offer:

The entitlement is for 30 hours free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year (term time), which equates to 1140 hours over a year.  There is no requirement that free places must be taken on or delivered on particular days of the week or at particular times of the day.  The entitlement to a free place does not offer a guarantee of a place at a specific school/childcare provision or a particular pattern of provision.  

There is an expectation that alongside the business and sustainability needs of a provider, consideration will be given to meeting parents’ needs in supporting them to work when determining the service ‘offer’ of days, sessions and times the free entitlement hours will be available.  

Some schools/childcare providers offer the free places ‘flexibly’ which means a parent could choose from a range of options, for example a choice of full and half days or different start times or the opportunity to ‘stretch’ the hours across more than 38 weeks of the year.  An example of a stretched offer would be 24 hours a week for 47.5 weeks of the year.  Providers who decide to make available a stretched offer to the parents can choose one, all, or a combination of the following stretch models:  51 weeks;    50 weeks;    47.5 weeks;    45 weeks

30 hours free childcare for 4 year olds

A 4 year old who is attending a reception class in a state funded school would not be eligible for the 30 hours free childcare.  Only parents of 4 year olds, who will not be attending reception in a state funded school, should apply and if successful on receipt of an eligibility code, they can choose to take up the 30 hours free childcare at a private, voluntary or independent school/ childcare provider. 

Further information:

A ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ information sheet has been produced for schools and childcare providers which covers: the benefits of providing a ‘stretched’ offer; questions around providing lunch; and where a parent uses more than one provider.  The ‘FAQ Schools & Providers – 30 Hours July 2017’  information sheet can be found in the ‘Professionals’ section on the Families Information Service website: www.doncaster.gov.uk/fis 


Tax Free Childcare FAQ's

What is Tax Free Childcare and how does it work?

Tax Free Childcare is a new Government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs. Parents will be able to open online childcare accounts to pay their childcare providers directly. For every £8 that parents, family or friends pay in, the Government will make a top up payment of an additional £2 up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for each disabled child. This will be open to all working parents in the UK with children under 12 years old or under 17 years old if they have a disability. Parents can’t use Tax Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers.

Parents will use their online childcare account just like a bank account to pay childcare providers. They will be able to track how much has been paid in and how much they have spent for each child. The government top up payment will be added instantly and parents can then send electronic payments directly to their childcare provider(s).

Which schools and childcare providers need to sign up to the Tax Free Childcare system?

Schools that provide any sessions or before / after school provision which parents pay for and all registered childcare providers i.e. nannies, day nurseries, sessional provision, childminders or before / after school clubs, will have to sign up online with HMRC to enable them to receive parent’s payments through the Tax Free Childcare system. Once signed up they will appear on the government website ‘Childcare Provider Checker’. This allows parents to check whether their childcare provider or school have signed up for Tax Free Childcare.

Who is eligible for Tax Free Childcare?

Who is eligible for Tax Free Childcare?

Parents could be eligible for Tax Free Childcare if they:

  • Earn at least £115 per week but less than £100,000 per year
  • Don’t receive childcare vouchers, tax credits or Universal Credit
  • Have children who are under 12, or under 17 for disabled children

When will it be available and how will parents be informed?

The introduction of the Tax Free Childcare scheme will begin on the 28th April and it will be gradually rolled out over 2017.  Parents of the youngest children will be invited to apply first and they will be able to include all of their children at the same time.  There will be one single online application system which can be completed online or via telephone to Her Majesty Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for both the Tax Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare.

Where can parents be signposted to for further support or information?

Families Information Service

  • Parents can find out contact details of all the childcare providers on the Directory of Funded Providers and schools that provide free places for 2, 3 & 4 year olds through carrying out an online search or telephoning for information
  • Childcare brokerage support can be provided to parents that need that extra help to find childcare that meets the needs of their particular family circumstances
  • Information on the 30 hours free entitlement, 2 year old free places and other ways to find help with childcare costs will be available on the Doncaster Councils Families Information Service website, in the tab ‘Help with Childcare costs’ and there is also a direct link to the Childcare Choices government website.

Website: www.doncaster.gov.uk/fis
Telephone: 01302 862136 / 735237
Freephone: 0800 138 4568

Childcare Choices:

To support parents to decide which childcare offer will best suit their family, the government’s new Childcare Choices website will provide all the information a parent needs to understand what is available to them. Through the website parents can sign up for an email alert that will notify them when they can apply, as well as providing details of existing childcare offers.  The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator which will help parents to compare all the governments childcare offers and check what works best for their family. 

Website: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

Contact the Families Information Service

  • Freephone: 0800 138 4568, operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, outside of these hours there is an answer phone service  
  • Telephone: 01302 862136 / 735237 
  • Email: fis@doncaster.gov.uk - all queries will be responded to within three working days. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 20 November 2017 11:48:23