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Providing 30 hours funded childcare

This page is for childcare providers and explains more about 30 hours funded childcare for three and four year olds and how you can claim funding. Most of the documents and forms you'll need are on the Providing free early education web page. If you're a parent, go to the 30 hours funded childcare for working parents page.


What is 30 hours funded childcare?

Most working parents of three and four year olds are eligible for an extra 15 hours of funded childcare a week, term time. Added to their current universal entitlement of 15 hours Free Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds, this means that their entitlement will increase to a total of 30 hours a week, term time (or 1140 hours over a year).

You can offer this as 30 hours a week for 38 weeks a year (called a term time offer) or you may want to spread the total number of funded hours over term time and school holidays by offering fewer hours each week (called a stretched offer).

You don't have to offer the full 30 hours, a few extra may be all that's needed by parents. Or you might choose to make informal links with another childcare provider to offer a joined-up, stretched service.

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Who can offer 30 hours funded childcare?

To be able to offer 30 hours funded childcare, your setting must be one of the following:

  • a childcare provider registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register
  • an independent school registered with the Department for Education (DfE)
  • an academy
  • a childminder with an outstanding, good or satisfactory/requires improvement Ofsted outcome.

Childminders cannot claim for children they are related to.

Your setting must also be registered on the Surrey County Council Directory of Providers to offer Free Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds (the universal 15 hours). Find out how to become a free early education provider.

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How can I offer 30 hours funded childcare?

The government's Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities sets out how childcare providers can offer 30 hours funded childcare.

The main features include:

  • Only HMRC can decide if a family is eligible so parents must apply for the additional hours through their Childcare Choices website.
  • Childcare can be delivered between 6am and 8pm (but for no more than 10 hours each session).
  • Childcare can be taken at up to two sites each day and with up to three providers in a year.
  • The funding is available over 38 weeks per year. It can also be stretched across a full year if the provider offers this but the number of hours per week would be reduced (for example, 1140 hours per annum is 30 hours per week for 38 weeks and 22.8 hours per week over 50 weeks).
  • Childcare providers will not be restricted to a minimum session length.
  • Childcare providers may charge a deposit to secure a funded place but must refund this to parents within a reasonable time.
  • Funded hours can be taken at breakfast clubs, after school clubs, holiday playschemes and at weekends, if available, as well as with registered childminders and other registered childcare providers.
  • Childcare providers must publish their admissions criteria and show clearly which hours/ sessions can be taken as funded provision and any fees charged for additional time.
  • Invoices should show clearly which periods are funded and which additional services or hours taken are being charged for.
  • Childcare providers will be able to ask for voluntary payments for meals and snacks as part of a funded place as well as consumables such as nappies and sun cream and for trips and services such as languages or yoga.
  • Parents that qualify for the additional hours should also qualify for Tax-Free Childcare to help offset any additional costs.

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How can I check parents are eligible?

Parents must apply to make sure they're eligible for 30 hours funded childcare through the government's Childcare Choices website. There's 30 Hours Eligibility Guidance to help parents understand if they will qualify. If a parent's application is successful, they'll get given an 11 digit eligibility code.

Checking eligibility codes

If a parent wants to use any of their extended hours with you, they need to give you their eligibility code to check. We recommend you do this before you offer the parent a 30 hours funded childcare place, just to make sure there aren't any problems with the code.

Childcare settings and schools that claim funding through the portal
If you claim funding for three and four year olds through the Free Early Education Portal, you can check the validity of a code using the online eligibility checker.

You must ask the parents to complete an eligibility form for childcare settings (PDF) which has all the consent information the parent needs to sign before you check the code.

Once this form is completed you can then check a code in the portal by:

  • going to 'search for a child' on the blue menu bar
  • selecting 'eligibility checker' from the drop down box
  • the portal will give you an immediate result.

When making the first claim for extended hours the parent should complete a Surrey Free Early Education - Registration form (Word). You can then claim for the hours in the usual way through the portal and it will ask you to check eligibility again as some time may have passed since you first checked the code.

Maintained schools that claim funding through schools education
If you are a maintained school and you get your funding through schools education you will need to complete an eligibility form for schools (Word) and send it to the Finance and Practice Team to check the parent's eligibility code is valid.

Contact the Finance and Practice Team by:

  • calling 01372 833811 or 01372 833833
  • scanning and securely emailing the eligibility forms using Egress Switch to schools.30@surreycc.gov.uk
  • posting the eligibility forms to Finance and Practice Team, Supporting Children Team, Fairmount House, Bull Hill, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7AH.

Our Finance and Practice Team will run the codes through the government's Eligibility Checking Service and let you know the results.

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Eligibility code results

Whether you check the code in the portal or if you are a maintained school through the Finance & Practice Team, if the code is eligible you will get three pieces of information:

  1. Validity start date
  2. Validity end date
  3. Grace period end date.

Validity start date
The validity start date is the date that a parent makes their first successful application for 30 hours funded childcare. This date does not change unless the parent falls out of eligibility and then due to their circumstances changing, successfully reapplies giving them a new validity start date.

Validity end date
This is the date when the parent's 30 hours funded childcare will end and the grace period will start. When the parent reconfirms their eligibility, the validity end date moves forward about three months.

Grace period end date
This is the date when the 30 hours funded childcare will end if the parent has not successfully reconfirmed their eligibility. This date changes when the parent reconfirms their eligibility.

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Reconfirming eligibility codes

Parents need to reconfirm that they're still eligible every three months. The Department for Education will send parents a text message and/or email to remind them to reconfirm four weeks before their validity end date and again two weeks before if they still haven't reconfirmed. Please note, the Department for Education will not include a link in their text message or email for parents to click on to reconfirm their code (if parents are sent an email asking them to click on a link to reconfirm it is likely phishing).

Parents will not get a new eligibility code, they'll just get a new validity end date and grace period end date. You do not need to tell us if a parent has re-confirmed their eligibility code.

The Free Early Education Portal rechecks eligibility codes automatically and will let you know if a parent is no longer eligible for the extended hours along with the date their grace period ends and funding will stop.

If the family's circumstances have changed and they are no longer eligible for the 30 hours funded childcare or they have not reconfirmed their eligibility, they can still get the universal 15 hours of Free Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds.

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How do I claim 30 hours funded childcare?

Surrey Family Services' Finance and Practice Team pays the funding for 30 hours funded childcare directly to childcare providers. Once you've applied to become a free early education provider and are registered on Surrey County Council's Directory of Providers, you'll be able to make claims through our online Free Early Education Portal.

The Provider Agreement (PDF) explains how you can deliver free early education. And you can download most of the forms you'll need from the Providing free early education web page.

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The rate is £4.51 per hour for 30 hours funded childcare.

You may also be able to claim the Disability Access Fund or Early Years Pupil Premium for eligible children.

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What can I do to prepare?

You might like to consider the following:

  • Designing a questionnaire (PDF) to identify how many parents will be entitled to 30 hours and how they would want to access them.
  • How you could stretch the extended hours across more than 38 weeks a year and how many hours per week would be available to parents.
  • How to decide how many of your places should be allocated to 30 hour children (extended hours), 15 hour children (universal hours) and those children eligible for Free Early Education for Two year olds (FEET). Introducing a mixed model can create a positive impact on your sustainability by balancing your intake this year and in future years.
  • What you can do if you can't open for 30 hours a week.
  • Working with other providers to offer more hours.
  • Ideas for extending your current opening hours.
  • Providing lunches, early drop-offs and late pick-ups.
  • Checking your capacity for child places.
  • Extending or adapting the premises.
  • Revising your admissions policy to show how you will allocate your places.
  • Revising your application forms so parents can show if they're eligible for free early education and including a space for 30 hours funded childcare eligibility codes.
  • Having an appeals process if parents are unable to access all the time they want.
  • How you will promote and market (PDF) your childcare provision. This could include displaying a 30 hours funded childcare poster (PDF) to parents or using your website and social media (PDF).
  • Considering the effect of these changes on your staff working hours, wages, qualifications and training.
  • Financial forecasting (MS Excel).

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Contact us

If you have any questions about 30 hours funded childcare please email the Finance and Practice Team at free.earlyeducation@surreycc.gov.uk or call 01372 833811.

If you need to post us anything please send it to Finance and Practice Team, Surrey Family Services, Fairmount House, Bull Hill, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7AH.

We will share more information as and when we have it through our Childcare professionals update e-bulletins so make sure you're signed up for these.

Files available to download

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