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Council Services:

30 Hours Free Childcare

The government has committed to doubling the amount of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours per week for working families from September 2017.

The Government has increased the amount of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds. Since September 2017, the entitlement has been extended to offer up to 15 hours more free childcare for eligible families. This is to support children to access quality provision and encourage parents to take up employment or to increase their working hours. This is in response to many working families highlighting the increasing costs of childcare across the country.

Example calendars and parent declaration forms have been created to demonstrate how the universal and extended entitlement hours can be calculated. These can be accessed on the ‘Registration & Delivery’ page of the website.


Eligible working families are defined as those where all parents (lone or couple) earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at National Minimum/Living Wage; and no parent earns more than £100,000.

Providers are encouraged to start planning now in preparation for the implementation in September 2017. Sufficiency is a key priority within this agenda and the Early Years and Childcare Support team will continue to support the childcare sector to ensure the additional hours are delivered to families successfully.

Providers are encouraged to use the 30 Hours Planning Tool to start reviewing the number of families accessing the provision who may be eligible for the extended entitlement, identifying any barriers or challenges and carefully considering solutions to ensure these are addressed before full roll out.

The Department for Education (DfE) awarded a two-year national support contract to Childcare Works in October 2016. The project is to work with providers and local authorities on the implementation of the extended entitlement to 30-hours of free childcare for working parents. Childcare Works has a robust programme of practical and effective support, challenge and solutions for all types of providers.

The Government is introducing new ways to help parents with childcare costs. Childcare Choices is the new online HMRC childcare service.

Childcare Choices website sets out all current and upcoming Government childcare offers and support available to parents, including the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, 30 hours, the universal 15 free hours, 2 Year Old childcare offer, Tax Credits, Universal Credit and Childcare Vouchers.

Included on the website is a Childcare Calculator for parents to compare all offers and support available to them and check what works best for their family.

The Process

The process for parents and providers to access and deliver 30 hours free childcare:

  1. Parents can apply for 30 hours childcare through HMRC Childcare Choices website
  2. Childcare Choices will provide parents with an ID code which will clarify whether they are eligible for free childcare
  3. Eligible parents will then provide their chosen childcare provider with the ID code
  4. The childcare provider will check the ID through Lincolnshire County Council’s Early Years Provider Hub
  5. Parents will be required to re-confirm their eligibility every 3 months

Lincolnshire’s eligibility checker will be available in the Early Years Provider Hub and all providers are currently being invited to access this to complete checks.

Providers will need to have the parents permission to complete a check. The parent declaration form can be used for this or providers can adapt their own registration forms, or alternatively an example consent form is available for providers to download on this web page.

Grace Period

The Local Authority will continue to fund a place for a child whose parents cease to meet the eligibility criteria and ensure that providers are aware of this. This is known as the “grace period”. During the grace period, the Local Authority will continue to fund a child for their additional 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year, or its equivalent if the entitlement is being stretched.

Providers are advised to use the Guidance Toolkit to inform their planning for 30 hours implementation. The Financial Forecasting Tool has also been designed to assist providers with business planning.

Childcare Choices has developed some suggested materials for providers to help spread the word to parents and staff.

Included in the toolkit providers will find:

  • Information on Childcare Choices and the new offers
  • Suggested text to email to parents
  • The Childcare Choices logo
  • Some graphics and messages providers can use on their social media channels
  • An A4 poster
  • An A4 information sheet for staff and parents

Operational Guidance (DfE, July 2017) has been published to help providers understand in more detail the DfE’s expectations about how the free entitlements should be delivered.

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Last updated: 25 April 2018

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