30 hours free childcare for working parents

30 hours free childcare for working parents

Some working parents will be entitled to an extra 15 hours early education or childcare for their three or four year old child. If you are eligible you can have 30 hours instead of the usual 15 hours over 38 weeks per year. This can be stretched over more than 38 weeks. Eligibility starts the term after your child’s third birthday as with the universal entitlement.

Am I eligible?

Families will be eligible 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 each parent earns less than £100,000 per year. (for foster carers see last bullet point)
  • parents’ earnings must reflect the equivalent value of at least 16 hours of work at NMW or NLW, which is £142.56 a week at the current NMW rate. This includes those parents on zero-hour contracts who meet the criteria.
  • the minimum amount will always be judged against the lowest hourly rate that a person of the parent’s age could legally be paid as minimum wage rates vary by age.
  • or a parent/s expects (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months. The eligibility criteria have been designed to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes and those who are about to start working or increase their hours. For example, a parent who is on a zero-hours contract will get work some weeks, but not others, and may not know in advance if they will have work in any given week. If, on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage, their child will qualify for 30 hours of free childcare.
  • working will include the employed and self-employed and those on zero-hour contracts, and also those away from work due to statutory sick pay, maternity, paternity or adoption leave and where one parent is working and the other is in receipt of benefits due to caring responsibility or disability.
  • the person applying for the childcare (usually the parent) is ‘resident in the UK’.
  • foster carers are only eligible for their paid employment in additional to their paid foster care role, so if you are a foster carer but do not work in addition to this you will not be eligible.  See more at the bottom of this page. *

How can I sign up for this?

To apply you must sign up via the online digital Childcare Service

To find out about other support for funding for childcare including tax free childcare, support for two years old and more visit Childcare Choices.

You can find childcare and further information on the Newcastle Support Directory.

Foster carers cannot apply through the Childcare Service and need to see details at the end of this page.

How can I use my extended hours?

  • You can use your 30 hours over 38 weeks of the year or stretched over more weeks i.e. 22.8 hours over 50 weeks of the year, though some providers will have fixed session times.
  • You may be able to use your hours from 6am or until 8pm and at the weekend - for instance childminders can sometimes provide earlier or later hours than a day nursery or playgroup.
  • You can use up to three different providers for instance a school playgroup a childminder and a day nursery. But you need to let each provider know you are using other provision.
  • Any additional hours used will be paid for by you at the rate for this provider - which will vary.

How can I take up my free 30 hours?

  • Once you have applied online you will receive an 11-digit eligibility code. Take this to your preferred childcare provider or school and film in the parent declaration form to verify your eligibility.
  • Remember you can use your 30 hours over more than one childcare provider.
  • You can find childcare in your area on the Newcastle Support Directory.


*A 'parent' means a person who has parental responsibility for the child or care of the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earnings threshold. Foster carers are eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the criteria set out above excluding their paid foster care work. So if one or both carers only work as a foster carer they would not be eligible. But where a sole foster carer or both in their care as couple meet the working parent criteria above for their paid employment that is not foster caring  AND if the child's social care consents to them claiming 30 hours childcare then then can apply by providing evidence of earnings to the council every three months. For more information contact ed.whitby@newcastle.gov.uk



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