Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Today, we shine the spotlight on what we believe are the top 10 childcare funding schemes, available in England, for eligible children. Many also apply across the whole UK or at least have similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of the options are widely available, meaning easy, free funding with no need for families to jump through difficult eligibility barriers. The first two childcare funding options, for example, seem to be by far the easiest to obtain for most families. Others may suit in certain circumstances, for example if you are on benefits, studying as a student, and so on. Take a look …

The Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Tax-free Childcare Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £2,000 in free childcare funding is available per year, per UK child (£4,000 if the child has a disability). For children up to 11 (16 if disabled).

Eligibility:
Widely available as a parent, and partner if they have one, can each earn up to £100k per annum and still be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via an online Childcare account. The parent, relative or even friend deposits 80% to fund childcare and the Government tops up the remaining 20%, free.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for all 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Available for all children aged 3 or 4 living in England.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

“30 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
30 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours total) for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Eligibility depends upon household income; generally speaking, you cannot claim if you or your partner earn £100k or over, or less than £152 per week (that figure is lower if under 23). You can usually claim through this scheme at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare (or Childcare vouchers), or free childcare via Universal Credit. Other rules and exceptions apply.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply online here.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for eligible 2-year-olds in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Only parents receiving certain Government benefits are usually eligible to claim. Exceptions include 2-year-olds if: looked after by local authorities; subject to an ECH plan; in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; they’ve left care under certain types of order. Some non-UK citizens are also eligible in certain circumstances.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Vouchers (Employer-Supported Childcare)

What’s Available:
Funding for childcare is available through participating employers, for children up to 15 or 16 if disabled. You can use up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will not be subject to National Insurance or income tax. How much you are eligible for depends on earnings and the date you joined the scheme.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but still available to those enrolled before 4 October 2018 if eligible. Cannot be claimed at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via participating employers. Can be funded through a salary sacrifice approach.

Click here for more information.

Tax Credits for Childcare

What’s Available:
If eligible, those already claiming under the Tax Credits system can claim back up to 70% of eligible childcare costs, up to £122.50 each week for 1 child, or up to £210 per week for more than one.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but existing claimants of Tax Credits may still apply. New claimants must claim instead under Universal Credit (see below).

How Funding is Accessed:
For those who are still eligible to claim, the funding is paid direct to their bank or building society account. Follow the link below for more details.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Funding through Universal Credit

What’s Available:
If eligible, you can claim back up to 85% of childcare costs, up to £646.35 per month for one child or £1108.04 each month if you are claiming for more than one.

Eligibility:
You and your partner, if you have one, must have a child under 17, be working and claiming Universal Credit. There are exceptions to the above and other eligibility terms also apply. Not available if you’re already claiming Tax-Free Childcare or Tax Credits. Earnings and savings/investments also affect how much you may receive.

How Funding is Accessed:
You need to claim back your childcare costs (so pay for them first). You can only go back 3 months, so must keep on top of your claims.

Click here for more information.

Student Childcare Grant

What’s Available:
Up to 85% of your childcare costs are available as a non-repayable grant (max. is £183.75 per week for 1 child or £315.03 per week for two+. Correct for academic year 2022/23). Payable in addition to standard undergraduate student finance.

Eligibility:
Students must be permanent residents in England, studying full-time in higher education and be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income. They must not in receipt of a postgraduate loan. The childcare grant is for dependent children under 15 (under 17 if they have special needs). Not available if also claiming certain other childcare funding.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply at the same time as applying for student finance via your Student Finance Account.

Click here for more information.

Learner Support Scheme

What’s Available:
What’s available depends on your specific circumstances. It’s not designed specifically to fund childcare, but can be used for it.

Eligibility:
You must be a a parent over 20, studying in further education up to and including Level 3, and facing financial hardship to be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply via your learning provider (e.g. college).

Click here for more information.

Care to Learn Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £160 (or £175 if living in London) is available per child, per week, for those living in England. The funding can even help to fund a taster period of up to 5 days at the childcare provider and travel to/from the provider.

Eligibility:
You must be the child’s main carer and be under 20 when you begin your course. You must be studying on a publicly-funded course (N.B. not including higher education courses at university) at specific types of education provider e.g. schools, sixth forms and some colleges. Strict rules apply around attendance of both the course and the childcare sessions.

How Funding is Accessed:
For application instructions, click here.

Click here for more information.

Funded Childcare at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our Edgbaston nursery & preschool supports all valid childcare funding options

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We support all relevant childcare funding schemes for eligible families at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool in Edgbaston (B16). We offer the very best weekday childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please get in touch using one of the options below, for example to get started with your childcare enquiry or application. We’ll be happy to show you around, answer questions and help with your funding and nursery/preschool application.

E&OE. Please note that information is given in good faith and, to our knowledge, is correct at time of writing (November 2022). This is only a quick guide, though, so families will need to do their own. more detailed research to check for eligibility etc.

Amazing Deals for Struggling Families!

There’s no doubt that things are getting tough for families right now. However today, in our antidote to inflation, tax increases and the recent cost-of-living crisis, we bring families news of some absolutely brilliant deals, offers and ways that families can save money. What we’re talking about today may improve quality of life a little — even with something as simple as being able to afford a meal out with the kids. We were astounded by some of these discoveries, so we hope they are good news for you too.

Families: this is for you!

A few examples will help to introduce the type of money-saving offers and deals that we’ve unearthed for you in today’s post:

Did You Know?

  • You can eat out for just £1 per meal if you know where to go!
  • You can eat at home all week for just £1 per meal if you know the right recipe and supplier!
  • One famous food retailer offers interest-free shopping loans for struggling families!
  • There are lots of different Government schemes that give eligible families free childcare!

It’s amazing what’s available if you know where to look, and that’s exactly what we tell you today. We hope you find it useful.

Feeling the Pinch? Check Out The Great Deals & Offers We’ve Discovered!

Kids Under 16? Treat them to a Café Meal for just £1 Each — or Even Less!

Many of the large supermarkets are doing their bit to help struggling families, and Asda is one such example that caught our eye. They launched a £1 café offer called Kids Eat for £1 during the summer holidays and this has now been extended to the end of 2022. This seemed like a bargain to us. A list of participating ASDA cafés can be found here.

Morrison’s have a comparable deal where children under 16 can eat totally free of charge at a Morrison’s in-store café when the accompanying adult is having an adult meal costing £4.99 or more. Learn more about kids eating free at Morrison’s Cafés here. By the way, the same page also describes how Morrison’s have reduced the pricing of over half their hot food menu in their in-store cafés. It all helps!

Grandparents - Over 60s Can Eat & Drink Out for Just £1

Asda have also launched a Winter Warmers campaign aimed to help their older customers who visit their in-store cafés. Those 60 and above can enjoy soup and a roll plus unlimited cuppas for just £1 during November and December 2022. That’s a great opportunity for grandparents who are looking after little ones, although applies with or without children accompanying! Learn more about the Winter Warmers campaign for over-60s here.

Cheap But Tasty Meals at Home

Some of the supermarkets are making it easier for families to eat inexpensively at home. Sainsbury’s, for example, are currently publicising a range of recipes that will feed a family of four for no more than a fiver — that’s just £1.25 per meal. They list step-by-step instructions, list ingredients and even make it dead simple to add them to your online shopping cart. Check out some of their affordable meal suggestions here.

The BBC Food website also has a large selection of budget recipes for you to try. It’s a fantastic resource and they have gone to considerable effort to suit all tastes, including meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes. There are lots of recipes to make for just £1 per portion and ways to plan a week’s worth of meals for just £1 each. The page also gives advice on thrifty store cupboard ingredients, using air fryers and slow cookers,  and how to make food products last longer. Check out their website for some genuinely good ideas and inspiration for inexpensive eating at home.

Hot Deals on Frozen Food — Including an Interest-Free Loan!

It’s common knowledge that frozen food can work out cheaper and the retail chain Iceland are at the forefront of that niche in the UK. They are also very attuned to struggling families at the moment and so are offering several great ways to save money and make family food more affordable. For example, they have launched a major initiative called ‘Doing it Right’ and this includes a whole raft of beneficial offerings for struggling families. Many products can purchased for £1 in a ‘price freeze’, for example. It also includes discounts of over 60s on Tuesdays, money-saving 7-Day Deals, an exclusive Bonus Card scheme to save money on your favourite products and much more. A synopsis of all the main offers is available here.

A notable and innovative service was also introduced by Iceland in August 2022 to help families struggling to afford food (often those who relied on food banks and even loan shark loans). ‘The Iceland Food Club’ allows families to spread the cost of food through micro-loans between £25 and £100, using a pre-loaded card that allows them to spend the interest-free loan at Iceland food stores. Repayment is made at £10 per week and, as we say, the loan is interest-free. Well done Iceland! Learn more about the scheme here.

N.B. this information is given in good faith and does not constitute financial advice. Readers will need to do their own research.

Accumulate £££s to Redeem Against Your Shopping Bill

By the way, Asda also offers a “Rewards” scheme where you accumulate pounds (not points!) when you shop there. When accumulated, these can be redeemed against your shopping, thereby reducing your bill in a really tangible way. We know people who use this scheme and it seems to be a decent one so far as we can tell. Check out the Asda Rewards scheme here.

Save Money on Energy Costs

Octopus Energy has doubled its OctoAssist Fund, for customers struggling with their bills. They are offering help via direct financial support, standing charge waivers and energy saving support. Check out if you are eligible for any help and read their saver suggestions here.

Meanwhile, Utilita have teamed up with Iceland to help you Shop Smart and Cook Savvy, explaining ways to save you money. This includes advice on ways to reduce your energy bill through use, for example, of air fryers and energy-saving measures. (Click the bold links for more information). Via their app “My Utilita” you can also take control of your energy use, use pay-as-you-go and apply for emergency credit. Learn more here.

Baby Banks — Free Stuff for Families

Don’t forget to check out our Baby Banks post from May 2022 too (see the link below). There, we explained how struggling parents can get a huge variety of free things for their babies and children. Everything from baby food and nappies to high chairs and buggies is available, totally free of charge. Indeed, Baby Banks are a complete godsend for many struggling families. They’re also somewhere you can donate your pre-loved items that you’ve finished with, to help another family. Learn more about Baby Banks, including some near Edgbaston and Birmingham, here.

Childcare Funding Help

Childcare funding is an option we can help with directly at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Subject to eligibility, we support all the key Government schemes for free childcare funding including free childcare for 2-year-olds, free childcare funding for 3 & 4-year-olds, student childcare grants, tax-free childcare, childcare vouchers & more. Feel free to ask our staff for advice on any of these and we’ll be happy to help. If you are outside our area (Edgbaston, Birmingham), the bold links to free childcare funding articles may still be useful to give you an overview of the schemes, so please feel free to click through, bookmark and share.

A Funded Childcare Place for Your Child at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted. Please get in touch with us if you are eligible for any of the free childcare funding options and require a nursery or pre-school place for your child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please choose one of the options below to register for a nursery place, book a guided tour or ask a question. We look forward to hearing from you.

IMPORTANT: The above seemed amazing to us, but please ensure you check the websites and suppliers direct, as some things are time-limited and/or may be subject to change. Also, we have no affiliation with, or control over, the 3rd party offerings mentioned. As such, we cannot guarantee the details but, to the best of our knowledge, we believe they were correct at time of writing (Nov 2022).

How to Prepare Children For School

Preparing will ensure that the transition from pre-school to school goes as smoothly and stress-free as possible.In today’s article, we take a look at the best ways to prepare children for starting school. Leaving pre-school and starting Reception Year at primary school is a huge step for them. It’s also a big step for parents/carers, of course. So, it’s wise for everyone to be as prepared as possible for the first day and week in particular. Preparing well will ensure that the transition goes as smoothly and as stress-free as possible. So, how do we go about preparing children for starting at school? Let’s take a look …

Nurturing School-Readiness at Pre-School

The good news is that a good nursery or pre-school like Leaps & Bounds will help children prepare for school by default. It’s one of the key goals of any good pre-school, in fact. Decent pre-schools will nurture “preschoolers” (aged from about 3 to 5 years of age) in all aspects of their learning and development. This includes academically, physically, socially, emotionally, in terms of communication and language and also, of course, in terms of introducing them to A good pre-school will teach children everything they need to know in order to be ‘school-ready’ by the time they start in Reception Year.everything they need to know in order to be ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave and start school. As well as encouraging independence and a level of self-confidence, the preparation at pre-school will also include introducing them to reading and writing and a good grounding in understanding the world. These and many other aspects of early eduction will all stand children in good stead, so they can hit the ground running from the moment they begin Reception Year at school.

So, placing your child into a good local pre-school by the time they’re 3 or 4 can pay huge dividends for your child — but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the Department for Education has to say about sending children to nursery/pre-school for ‘early years education’:

“Early childhood education benefits the educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes of children in both the short and long term.”

The Government helps with free funded childcare hours at nursery/pre-school for 3 and 4-year-olds in England — and Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston supports the scheme. (Learn more about free childcare funding for 3 and 4-year-olds here).

Nurturing School-Readiness at Home

Parents, carers or guardians of preschoolers can also do many simple things to help them become school-ready by the time they’re five …

Working in Partnership with Pre-School

Children will benefit if parents help them work towards the same learning and development goals as the pre-school.One very obvious way to help is to ensure that, even when at home, parents/carers work in partnership with the child’s pre-school, i.e. work towards the same learning and development goals for the child. Working on any weaker areas at home will help the child in terms of school preparedness.

Encouraging children to have a built-in desire to learn will help them in both the short and long term.

Visit the School

Visiting the school with the child will also help them be more prepared as they will know better what to expect when the time comes. Familiarity and knowing their way around, ahead of time, is also a very practical benefit of taking them for a school visit. Obtaining a school brochure or prospectus for the child will also help with this.

Find a Friendly Face

Finding out which friends are also going to the school will give children moral support.Finding out which friends are also going to the school will benefit them. If there are none, then a play date can be set up if you can get to know another family whose child is starting on the same day. Knowing one or more friends, who are going at the same time, will be good moral support for all parties. It’ll also stop them feeling isolated, alone or even abandoned, particularly in the first couple of days once they start.

Nurture Independence

Encouraging independence will greatly help children. If they learn to look after their own personal needs before they start school, it’ll help them once they begin. Toilet training, personal hygiene, dressing, tying laces, packing backpacks, eating and tidiness are all good examples of things they can learn at home before beginning school.

Personal & Social Skills

Encouraging independence will greatly help children once they begin school.Similarly, social skills like having good manners, being polite, knowing the difference between right and wrong, empathy for others and, of course, good communication skills will all help children thrive more easily once they’re at school. Parents/carers can help them with this.

Answer & Reassure

Answering questions or finding answers to questions that the child may have will also help to reassure them and allay any fears that they may have.

The Power of Positivity

Being positive with your answers will also help. Encourage children to feel excited about all the wonderful things they will be able to do and learn once at school. There might be new sports, new exciting topics, new equipment, wonderful games and opportunities — so encourage positivity. This is one of life’s big adventures, so don’t forget to remind them.

Prepare

Ensure that both you and your child know the drill for dropping off and picking up at each end of the school day.Nearer the start date, run through what’s likely to happen on the first day with your child, so they’re mentally prepared. Again, be positive about it all.

In the week or two before they start, ensure they get used to an appropriate bedtime and get sufficient sleep. Ideally, their body clocks should have adjusted fully to ‘school time’ before they actually start. So, even breakfast time may need an adjustment in the weeks preceding the start of school. This will all help them get through the day with good concentration and energy levels.

Another good tip is to ensure that both you and your child know the drill for dropping off and picking up at each end of the school day. Where is it done? What time? What is the best approach from a safety perspective? What security precautions does the school have in place should you unexpectedly need to send someone else to collect your child. The answers to all these types of questions will need to be known before the first day.

On the First Day of School

Ensure that the child's backpack is pre-packed with everything they'll need.When the big day comes, ensure that you are both fully prepared so that the start of school is stress-free for both you and your child. This includes:

  • Ensuring that the child’s backpack is pre-packed with everything they’ll need including any sports or P.E. clothes/footwear (suitably labelled with their name), any stationery, a calculator if needed and so on;
  • Ensuring they have sufficient food, snacks and drink should the school not be supplying them;
  • Making sure that the uniform fits, is clean, ironed and ready for the child;
  • Knowing the journey times and parking/dropping-off arrangements, because you don’t want to make your child late — especially on their first day;
  • Making sure that you have the contact details of the school and form tutor — and that they have yours — in case of any problems.

Just before you wave goodbye to your child, ensure they know who is picking them up and when. This will reassure them and is also for safety. Make sure you have agreed security arrangements for pick-up between yourselves and, of course, don’t be late when picking them up when the time comes.

A Wonderful Nursery & Pre-School in Birmingham, Near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds is an excellent pre-school and nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16). As such, it’s also ideally located if you are searching for pre-schools or childcare nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers absolutely thrive at the setting and we even have our own Forest School, where children get to benefit and learn from nature. One of our most important goals for every child is also to ensure they are school-ready by the time they leave us around the age of 5. If you have any questions, would like to bring your child for a visit or would simply like to apply for a place, please get in touch:

Free Childcare Grant for Students

A free childcare grant is available to eligible students who are also parents.Did you know that there is a free childcare grant available to students who are also parents? This could be a game-changer for you if you are thinking about enrolling in a further education course and have a child. One major consideration will be that you’ll need to arrange childcare for your child while you are learning, so you can give your course your full attention while in attendance. However, childcare costs money, so may be a real concern. Indeed, it could be a deciding factor as to whether the whole studying idea is even viable.

Well, there is good news for undergraduate students who have a child under the age of 15 (17 if they have special educational needs). Under a UK Government scheme, you may be eligible for a grant to cover a big chunk of your childcare costs and, actually, it’s quite generous.

How Much is the Childcare Grant for Students?

Eligible students can get a grant worth up to 85% of their childcare costs.Eligible students can get a grant worth up to 85% of their childcare costs during study. Even better — it does not need to be paid back and is in addition to other student finance. One of the stipulations, in fact, is that you must be eligible for student finance in order to be eligible for a student Childcare Grant.

For a parent with one dependent child, this could amount to as much as £179.62 per week or, for two or more children, up to £307.95 per week*. That’s all so long as this is no more than 85% of your childcare costs. If it is, then the lower (85%) amount applies. Either way, though, you’ll have to pay for the remainder of the childcare costs.

* Figures are correct, at time of writing, for the academic year 2021-2022.

Additional Rules Around Eligibility

In addition to the rules already confirmed above, several other factors affect eligibility for the student Childcare Grant:

  • Eligible students need not juggle looking after their little one with study.The childcare provider must be officially registered as such with Ofsted or the General Childcare Register;
  • They must not be related if the childcare is to take place at home;
  • The child or children being claimed for must be financially dependent upon you, the applicant;
  • You must be a permanent UK resident and be studying full-time;
  • You must receive, or be eligible to receive, undergraduate student finance based on household income.

You are not eligible if:

  • You or your partner receive childcare funding help from the NHS;
  • You or your partner claim the childcare part of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit, or claim Tax-Free Childcare;
  • You are receiving a Postgraduate Loan.

How to Apply for the Childcare Grant

Apply for a Childcare Grant and have much of your childcare costs covered.You should apply for the Childcare Grant for students as part of the process of applying for your main undergraduate student finance. You’ll need to set up a Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS) account too. You will receive instructions on how to do so, along with confirmation of how much you’ll get for the Childcare Grant, once you’ve started the process.

All of the above is usually done online. However, should you want to retrospectively apply for the Childcare Grant having already applied for student finance, you can use a paper form. You can also do this should you wish to make an application for an additional child later on. More details about applying for the Childcare Grant for students is available here.

How the Childcare Grant is Paid

You are not paid directly. Instead, the grant gets paid to the childcare setting you are using for your childcare. They apply to be paid out of the CCGPS account that you set up after applying for the grant. You need to approve the payments by logging into your CCGPS account on a weekly basis once your course has started.

A Great Nursery for Student Parents: Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.If you are a student parent or are considering studying somewhere local to Edgbaston or Birmingham, we have your childcare needs covered! Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is based in Edgbaston, so is within easy reach of the University of Birmingham, Moss House (University College Birmingham), Edgbaston College, South & City College Birmingham, Sparkhill Adult Education Centre, Birmingham Adult Education Service, Saltley Learning Centre, Selly Oak Learning Centre, Joseph Chamberlain Adult Learning Centre, the Midlands Arts Centre and Northfield Education Centre amongst others. We’d be delighted to look after your baby, toddler or under-five child on weekdays when you attend your further education sessions. We’re also a Forest School (great for kids who enjoy the Great Outdoors and nature). Choose a button below to find out more or to arrange a visit:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Contact Us 0121 246 4922

Main photo: Gavin Warrins (Public domain)

Free Childcare Funding for 3 & 4 Year Olds – Everything you Need to Know

This article explains everything you will need to know about free childcare funding for 3 and 4 year olds in England. Perhaps you’ve heard reference to ’15 hours funding’ or ’30 hours funding’ and need some clarification about what they mean and whether your child is entitled to them. If so, read on …

15 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

All 3 and 4 year old children in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare funding per week. This is funded by the UK Government, the funding being paid direct to the approved childcare setting involved. The 15 hours per week are usually spread over 38 weeks of the year, totalling a maximum of 570 hours. However, they can be spread out in a different way should the need arise, subject to agreement of the nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting involved.

Eligibility

After application, funding is available from the first term following the child’s 3rd birthday. In practice, this means that the child can start from either 1 January, 1 April or 1 September depending on which part of the year their third birthday falls.

The income of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor affecting eligibility for the 15 hours of free funding for 3 and 4 year olds. Similarly, the work situation of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor.

The child is eligible until either they start primary school (usually in the September term following their 4th birthday) or until they reach the compulsory age for school if that’s later.
It’s important to note that the Government funding does not usually cover extra things like nappies, food and the cost of any trips.

How to apply

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is an approved childcare setting, so let us know if you require ’15 hours childcare funding’ per week for your three or four year old child. We can then assist you with your application. Also let us know if you’d prefer to stretch the 570 total hours over more weeks of the year and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

30 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

Some 3-4 year old children are also eligible for an extra 15 hours of free childcare funding each week. This brings the total to 30 Government funded hours per week for those children, making 1140 hours over the course of the year (based on 38 weeks). As with the 15 hours funding, this can be spread out in a different way if that’s practical. For example, it could be taken as less than 30 hours per week but stretched out over a greater number of weeks in the year if preferred.

You are usually eligible for 30 hours of childcare funding even if you are already claiming Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Childcare Vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

Eligibility:

Eligibility generally depends four key factors:

  • Whether you are working;
  • How much you are earning;
  • Your child’s circumstances;
  • Your nationality.

If you are in work, you are usually eligible if you (and your partner, if applicable) are on sick or annual leave, or on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Note that you cannot claim funding for any child that you are on parental leave for.

If you are not in work, you can usually apply if you’re due to start/re-start working within 31 days of the application. Also, if your partner is still in work while you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance, you may still apply.

With regard to your earnings (whether working as a single parent or part of a couple that both work), in order to remain eligible:

  • You, and your spouse or partner if you have one living with you¹, must expect to earn at least the weekly equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage or Minimum Wage over the coming quarter. (That’s unless you are self-employed if you became so less than a year ago).
  • Neither of you will earn an Adjusted Net Income* of more than £100,000, including any bonuses, in the current tax year.
    * ‘Adjusted Net Income’ is your total taxable income before personal allowances less adjustments for things like Gift Aid.
    ¹ If your partner does not live in your household for more than 6 months of the year, or if they are in prison, their employment and income will not affect your eligibility.

With regard to your child’s circumstances, you will not be eligible for 30 hour childcare funding if your child doesn’t usually live with you. There are also different application mechanisms for foster parents, who will need to apply through their local authority or social worker.

When it comes to nationality, parents or their partners will be potentially eligible for 30 hour funding if they are from the UK or EEA (European Economic Area). Parents from outside the EEA would require a UK residence card that states that they can access public UK funds.

How & when to apply

Parents can apply for 30 hours childcare funding once their child reaches the age of 2 years and 36 months (that’s just over 2 years and 8 months of age). When they actually start depends upon when they reach the age of 3. Below, we include some application date guidelines which, if followed, usually ensure that parents receive their approval code in time:

  • If your child reaches the age of 3 between September and December, then the recommended time to apply for 30 hours funding is between mid October and the end of November that year. If successful, they will then be able to start in the January term.
  • If they turn 3 between January and March, then the recommended time to apply is between mid January and the end of February. If successful, they will then be able to start in the April term.
  • If they turn 3 between April and August, then the recommended time to apply is between mid June and the end of July. If successful, they will then be able to start in the September term.

Note that parents need to re-confirm their eligibility each and every quarter.

You can apply here but note that there can only be one account and application per child. Duplications (e.g. from a partner, ex-partner or additional claim) will be rejected.

Looking for free childcare funding for 2 year olds?

Do you have a child under three that needs childcare services? We wrote a detailed article about free childcare funding for 2 year olds too (click to learn more).

Further information

To discuss funding options or anything to do with childcare services, contact the staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Please call 0121 246 4922 or email and we’ll be happy to help. We are a nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston, very close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick near Birmingham, B16.