30 Hours Funded Childcare / Tax-Free Childcare

Working parents could be entitled to 30 hours funded childcare, and help with childcare costs through Tax-Free Childcare.

Working parents of 3 & 4 year olds that meet the criteria will be entitled to 30 hours funded childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year. This is an increase of 15 additional funded childcare hours on top of the current 15 hours of funded childcare / early education.

For more on this, please read the following questions and answers.

Questions About 30 Hours Funded Childcare

What is the eligibility criteria?

Working parents includes: employed, self-employed and workers on a zero hour’s contract.

To take up the 30 hours of funded childcare families need to meet all the following criteria:

  • Each parent earns less than £100,000 per year
  • Both parents are working and in a lone parent family the sole parent must work
  • Each parent works a minimum of 16 hours a week or earns on average a weekly minimum amount that is equivalent to 16 hours a week at either the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, for example, £131 a week based on National Living Wage

There are exceptions to both parents having to work. Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be entitled to the 15 hours extended entitlement; however, they will be eligible where:

  • both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on: parental, maternity or paternity leave; adoption leave; or on statutory sick pay
  • one parent is employed and one parent:
    • has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring
    • is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

You can apply for 30 hours funded childcare if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.

What is the eligibility criteria for foster carers?

You will be eligible for your children in foster care if it is consistent with the child’s care plan and you and your partner (if any) are working outside your fostering role. 

If you are not employed outside your fostering responsibilities, you may still be eligible for 30 hours funded childcare if:
  • you have a partner who holds additional employment outside their role as foster carer and 
  • you receive one of the following benefits:
    • For Universal Credit purposes, you have been assessed as having limited capability for work
    • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
    • Carer’s Allowance
    • Employment and Support Allowance
    • Incapacity Benefit
    • Severe disablement Allowance

You should start by discussing this with your social worker.

How do I apply?

To see if you are eligible and to apply please visit the HMRC website. If you need assistance to apply, or are experiencing problems with the online application process, you can contact the Childcare Service helpline on: 0300 123 4097 (phone line is open Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm).

You will need to reconfirm your details every 3 months to prove you still meet the eligibility criteria.

How do foster carers apply?

You will need to apply through the local authority who is responsible for the child in foster care. You, and your partner (if any), will need your:
  • National insurance number(s)
  • Any evidence requested by your local authority

For more information and to apply, please contact the Early Education Funding team on the contact details below:

Where is my eligibility code?

You can access your eligibility code on your online childcare account. If you have forgotten how to access your account please see the 'Parents Guide to access code' in the downloads and resources section of this page.

My child is eligible for a 30 hour place, what do I do next?

You will be given an 11-digit code starting with 5000... which can be viewed on your online childcare account.

You need to find out which schools / childcare providers offer 30 hour places and if they have vacancies

When you have found a school nursery / childcare provider that you want your child to attend you need to follow their admission arrangements to secure your place (this will include a Parent Declaration Form)

The school / childcare provider will need to validate your 11-digit code

Once the code has been validated your child's place can be confirmed and a start date can be arranged

Eligibility codes last 3 months only and therefore you will need to reconfirm your details every 3 months

What is a Parent Declaration Form?

This is a form the parent needs to complete to give consent and provide information to the school/childcare provider for them to undertake a validation check on your 30 hours eligibility code. If the child attends more than one school/childcare provider for their 30 funded hours, a form must be completed for each provider. 

Parental declaration forms will be provided to the parent by the school/childcare provider.

What happens if my circumstances have changed and I am no longer eligible?

If a child has started their place and the parent’s circumstances change and they fall out of eligibility, a grace period will apply so the child can continue with their funded place for a period of time. 

After the grace period end date the child will no longer be able to receive the 15 hours extended entitlement however they will continue to receive the 15 hours universal entitlement.

Date parent receives 'not eligible' decision on reconfirmation Grace period end date
1st January to 10th February 31st March
11th February to 31st March 31st August
1st April to 26th May 31st August
27th May to 31st August 31st December
1st September to 21st October 31st December
22nd October to 31st December 31st March
If a parent’s circumstances change again at a later date or whilst they are in the grace period, they may reapply to HMRC and become eligible again. The eligibility code for a parent/child combination will not change over time, even if its validity lapses and a new application is submitted. 

When can my child take up their 30 hour funded place?

The child can take up a place at the beginning of a term when both of the following conditions are satisfied:
  • It is the term after the child's 3rd birthday and
  • It is the term after the 'Validity Start Date' (The ‘Validity Start Date’ is the date HMRC confirm a parent’s eligibility).
Validity Start Date and child is three years old on or before the following date Date from when a child can take up their 15 hour extended entitlement place
31st August 1st September
31st December 1st January
31st March 1st April
Your child must take their place before the Headcount dates so the provider can be paid for your child. Please ask your childcare provider what the Headcount date is for the current term. 

Where can my child take up their funded childcare place?

A 30 hours funded place can be taken at a school with a nursery or with a childcare provider who is registered on Doncaster Council's Directory of Funded Providers to deliver 3 and 4 year old funded entitlement places. These include:

  • Independent schools
  • Day nurseries
  • Childminders
  • Sessional providers (for example, a playgroup or pre-school).
To find contact details and information for schools and childcare providers who offer 30 hours places, visit our Families Information Services page which has a search facility.

Please be aware not all providers deliver the 30 hours funded childcare.

Can I use more than one provider for the 30 hours?

Yes, you can take your 30 hours with more than one provider. There is no limit on the number of providers you can use, however, you will be limited to no more than two sites in a single day. 

Can I move my child's funding to a different childcare provider?

You can move your child's early education funding at the start of each term (January, April, September) before headcount date; if you choose to move your child to another childcare setting before headcount date then you may incur fees for the childcare accessed with the original childcare provider.

In special circumstances, we may allow you to move your child's funding after headcount.

What is headcount day?

Headcount day is a date set each term when children accessing their early education funding in early years settings are counted. This information is submitted to Doncaster Council so we can pay the setting for your child’s funded childcare.

Your child will be still be counted, if headcount day falls on a day that your child doesn’t normally attend, as long as they attend their regular days during the week. Your child will also still be counted if they have accessed funding this term but are temporarily away from the setting on headcount day/ the week headcount day takes place, e.g. if your child is unable to attend during the week because they’re ill.

Do you have any other information for parents who are self-employed or on a zero hour's contract?

Although the criteria are based on earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week, there is no requirement to work any particular number of hours or to earn any particular amount each week.  Parents need only to expect to earn the stated amount on average over a 3 month period (which will be £131.36 a week based on National Living Wage).  HMRC will request information through the application process which may include previous earnings.

New self-employed parents: it is recognised that many small businesses struggle to generate a regular income when they first start up. Therefore to support newly self-employed parents they do not have to meet the minimum income rule in their first year of trading.  This ‘start up’ period should remove the pressure on parents to predict future income in the earliest months of their business. 

My school nursery offers 30 hours places, how do I apply?

15 hour extended entitlement places:  The parent should contact the school directly and they will tell you what their admission arrangements are for the extended entitlement places. All providers of funded entitlement places are required to publish clear and transparent admissions arrangements.  This will include how to apply and the process for allocating places.

15 hours universal entitlement nursery places:  The allocation of nursery places will still be undertaken by the Council for the majority of schools.  The parent will submit an application form to the Council, who will then write to the parent informing them which school nursery their child will have a place at for their 15 hours universal entitlement.  The admission arrangements for which sessions the child will attend will then be agreed directly with the school.

Will I have to pay anything for my child's 30 hour place?

No, the actual 30 hours place will be delivered free to the parent.

However, the funding is not intended to cover the cost of meals, optional services or additional hours (hours that are taken over and above the funded entitlement hours). Therefore, schools / childcare providers will charge for additional hours, meals, trips out and consumables such as nappies, wipes, sun cream etc.

Before a child starts their funded hours, a parent should expect the provider to be completely clear about charges for additional hours and optional services.

Parents should not be required to pay a registration fee as a condition of taking up their child’s funded place.

A childcare provider can request a deposit where a place is secured in advance. The deposit will then be refunded in full to the parent within a reasonable timescale when the child takes up the place.

Tax-Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare is a new Government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs. Parents will be able to open online childcare accounts to pay their school/childcare provider directly. For every £8 that parents, family or friends pay in, the Government will make a top up payment of an additional £2 up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for each disabled child. This will be open to all working parents in the UK with children under 12 years old or under 17 years old if they have a disability. Parents can’t use Tax Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers.

To support parents to decide which childcare offer will best suit their family, the governments new Childcare Choices website will provide all the information a parent needs to understand what is available to them.

If you have any questions, please get in touch on the details below.

Contact the Families Information Service

  • Freephone: 0800 138 4568, operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, outside of these hours there is an answer phone service  
  • Email: fis@doncaster.gov.uk - all queries will be responded to within three working days. 



Last updated: 31 January 2022 15:45:57