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30 hours free education for 3 & 4 year olds (extended entitlement)

30 Hours Funding (also known as - additional 15 Hours for 3-4 year olds)

Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week.  This funding will only be made available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

Parents can get more information, check eligibility and apply at:

Parents must make their application the term before they wish to start receiving the entitlement.



When a parent gives you a 30 hour code, you need to go on our portal (online headcount system) and check to ensure it is a valid code.  The portal is accessible all year round for you to check codes.  The code will display a start date, end date and a grace period.  The grace period is applicable when a parent falls out of employment and no longer entitled to 30 hour funding.  The child can continue accessing the placement until the end of the grace period. 

Any child who loses their eligibility for the 30-hour entitlement will still be entitled to the universal 15-hour entitlement. If the child has been taking up the 30-hour entitlement with more than one provider, parents will need to inform their local authority where they would like to receive their 15 hours

Parents will be required to reconfirm their eligibility every three months by making a declaration that they expect their earnings to fall within the required threshold. They will be prompted by text message or email to do this, and if they fail to do so they could lose their eligibility. Parents who make inaccurate or dishonest declarations can be fined up to £3000.


Additional Charges

You are not permitted to charge parents top-up fees (the difference between your private fees and the hourly rate you receive from your local authority) or require a registration fee.

You can require parents to pay a deposit to secure a child’s free entitlement place, but this must be fully refunded within a reasonable time scale if the place is taken up.

Government funding is intended to cover the cost to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of free, high quality, flexible childcare. It is not intended to cover the cost of meals, consumables, additional hours or additional services.

This means parents can expect to be charged for meals and snacks, and as well as for other consumables such as nappies, wipes and sun cream. You can also charge for additional activities and services such as outings and trips; classes (e.g. French, yoga, Forest School, etc.); drop-offs and pick-ups (e.g. to and from another setting); and for being ‘on-call’ when a child is at another setting. However, parents must have the choice of whether or not they wish to purchase additional activities and services, and these charges cannot be a condition of taking up a funded place.

As a provider you are required to deliver the entitlements consistently so that all children receive the same quality and access to provision, regardless of whether parents pay for optional extras. While a child is taking up a 30-hour place, there should be no restrictions on that place. For example, parents should not have to reserve a place each term.

It is essential that you are always transparent about any additional charges and ensure that all your invoices and receipts are clear, transparent and itemised.


All families of 3 & 4-year olds can claim free early education of up to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks. This is paid directly to settings at a rate of £6.90 per hour.
Working families may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week of funded early education. This is called the 30 hours offer.  

For further information, please download the EY funding leaflet; or contact us

30-hour free childcare entitlement: FAQs for schools/providers/childminders

Q1.      What is the 30-hour free childcare entitlement?

All three and four year olds are entitled 15 hours of free childcare and early education a week for up to 38 weeks in a year. Children can access this entitlement in approved childcare providers such as, school, nursery classes, private day nurseries, pre-schools and with childminders. 

The Government has increased the entitlement from 15 to 30 hours a week for working parents who meet the eligibility criteria, this is called 30 hours (also referred to as extended entitlement). 

Q2.      Who will be eligible for the additional 15 hours?

 This is available to 3-4 year olds in families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

If a parent is self-employed or on a zero hours-contract they are still eligible as long as they meet the earnings threshold.  You can also apply if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.

Q3.     What if one parent is not working?

If one parent is not in paid employment the family will not usually be eligible however, there are exceptions for those who are on parental, maternity, paternity, adoption or sick leave.

If one parent is working and the other is in receipt of Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance the family may still qualify.

Summary of main Eligibility Criteria:

  • A child will be aged 3 or 4 Parent/carer will work more than 16 hours per week
  • Parent/carer will have an annual income of less than £100,000
  • The family will live in England
  • The childcare provider is registered with Ofsted

Q4.     When can I apply?

The application must be made the term before you wish to start receiving the funding and you can apply up to 16 weeks before your child turns three. 

A child will become eligible for the funding at the start of the school term after their third birthday

Child born between


1st September to 31st December

January – Spring term

1st January  to 31st March

April – Summer term

1st April  to 31st August

September Autumn term

Q5.      How do I apply?

Application are assessed by HMRC online, you will need to apply on the Childcare Choices website, see link below:

Childcare choices helpline: 0300 123 4097

Eligible families will receive an 11-digit code which they take to their childcare provider along with the parent’s national insurance number and child's date of birth.  Parents will be asked by HMRC to confirm their details are up to date every 3 months or their code will expire.

 There will be a short grace period with every code in case a parent loses their job, so they do not automatically lose their childcare entitlement.

Q6.     What costs isn't covered? 

The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If families choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between them and the childcare provider. However, families cannot not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options. 

Q7.      Can the free 30 hours be delivered outside of term time?

Eligible parents will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week over 38 weeks or the equivalent number of hours across more weeks per year. The Government has said that it wants to ensure parents are given the choice of a ‘stretched offer’ so that the free hours are available outside of term time.  

For example:

  • Standard Term Time offer: Entitlement claimed over 38 weeks
  • Stretched Flexible offer:                45 weeks @ 25 hours per week or

51 weeks @ 22 hours per week

Q8.        Have the ratio requirements change under the 30 hours?

The ratios remain the same under the existing adult: child ratios set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Staff qualifications requirements and indoor space requirements will also remain the same for all 30 hours’ provision.

Q9.       Are children with special needs or disabilities (SEND) be entitled to additional support?

Yes, there will be additional funding available to support SEN children to have full access to the EYFS. The new Disability Access Fund is equivalent to £615 per child per year to support access to free entitlements. 3 and 4year olds will be eligible for the DAF if they meet the following criteria:

  • The child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and
  • The child receives free early education

Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children for DAF.

Q10.       What other support will be available to families to help with childcare costs?

Working parents who are eligible for the 30 hours free childcare can additionally receive support with childcare costs of up to £2000 per child through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

Parents on low incomes can get up to 85% of their childcare costs reimbursed through the childcare element of Universal Credit, which is gradually being rolled out across the country over the next few years.

Q11.     What is the funding rate for providers?

 Kensington and Chelsea provider rate is: £6.85 per hour.

Q12.     Does one provider have to provide all of the 30 hours for each child?

 If you have the capacity to do so then you can.  However, if it meets the needs of the family they can seek childcare from up to two providers in a single day.

There are many ways the offer can be delivered for example:

(i)            A single provider could deliver all of the hours

(ii)           A single site with two providers could deliver the hours between them

(iii)          Partners within walking distance could deliver the hours between them

(iv)          Models responding to parental need such as early morning/twilight/weekend provision

Q13.     What hours does the childcare need to be available for?

Places should be available to parents between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

The Government would like to see partners working together to provide flexible, high-quality provision that is responsive to children’s needs, including those with disabilities or special educational needs.  This could include offering early morning/twilight or weekend provision in response to parental requirements.  

Q14.     Where can I get additional information?

See below:

Childcare Choices

Childcare choices helpline:

0300 123 4097


Bi-borough Childcare & Early Education Service

Family Information Service


Tel: 07814 804262

Last Updated 01/09/2021

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