Early learning and childcare funding
There are many schemes available to help you give the best start to your child and to help you with the costs.
On this page you will find information on the following:
- Finding local childcare
- Early learning for two-year-olds
- Nursery education for three- and four-year-olds
- Early years pupil premium
- 30 hours of free childcare
- Working tax credit/childcare tax credit
- Childcare vouchers
- Care to Learn
Finding local childcare
The Family Information Service provides free, impartial information and advice on childcare as well as general information on a wide range of services for children, young people (birth to 25 years old), and parents and families.
Please refer to the Local Offer to find childcare providers in Tower Hamlets.
Early learning for two-year-olds
Some children may be eligible for 15 hours of funded childcare from the term after their second birthday. Unlike the nursery education for three and four year olds which is open to all, the early learning for two-year-olds is only available to children and families that meet certain criteria.
Children love to play and learn, and we have some excellent nurseries, pre-school playgroups and childminders where they can do just that.
Your child could take up their place in the term after they turn two, with 15 hours a week of free care, if you are on a low income, if your child has additional needs or if your child is looked after by us. If you have an older child at school and they receive free school meals, your younger children will probably be eligible for a free two-year-old place too.
For more information and check your eligibility, please call the Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495 or fill out the form and send your application form to Early.Learning@towerhamlets.gov.uk. Your local children’s centre can also support you with filling out form and inform you what childcare is available in the borough.
Please note that the Universal Credit eligibility criteria for the two years old offer and EYPP are currently subject to consultation.
You can find more information about the criteria on the Early learning for two-year-old fact sheet.
Early learning for two-year-old fact sheet
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Nursery education for three and four-year-olds
All children are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education from the term after their third birthday. The childcare provider applies directly for the funding from the local authority. Parents do not need to apply. They just need to show evidence to the childcare provider of their child’s age.
The 15 hours is generally paid for over 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per year. However, the 15 hours can be taken at some provision in a more flexible way to suit the child and family needs.
The child may be eligible for a free part-time place if they are attending an Ofsted-registered childcare setting such as:
- a pre-school playgroup
- a local authority day nursery
- a private sector day nursery
- a voluntary sector day nursery
- registered childminder.
Early years pupil premium – extra funding for your childcare provider
The early years pupil premium (EYPP) gives providers of early years education extra funding to support disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds. Your child could benefit from extra resources and equipment to meet their needs.
Your childcare provider (nursery, childminder or school) may be entitled to claim funding for your child.
To check your eligibility please visit www.myearlylearning.co.uk
You can find more information on the Early years pupil premium fact sheet.
Early years pupil premium fact sheet
Extension to free childcare entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds for working parents
From September 2017 the government is increasing the number of hours of free childcare available to eligible working parents of 3&4 year olds, this will be on top of the universal free early education entitlement of 15 hours per week meaning a total of up to 30 hours free early education and childcare for working parents. The offer consists of a total of 1,140 hours across the year, 30 hours per week for the 38 weeks of the school year, although this offer can be stretched across the full year to better suit the needs of working parents.
Not all providers will be able to offer the full hours that parents are entitled to so parents will be able to use more than one childcare provider to ensure they can access their full entitlement.
Am I eligible?
Eligibility is determined by the HMRC Childcare Choices website. Full eligibility criteria are listed on the Childcare Choices website.
To access the funding, a parent must have their unique eligibility code for the additional 15 hours. With the agreement of the setting, eligible parents can take their entitlement of 1140 hours across 51 weeks (22 hours per week) or term time across 38 weeks (30 hours per week).
Both parents must be working* (or the sole parent must be working in a lone parent family), and each parent, on average, should earn:
- A weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and
- Less than £100,000 per year.
Please visit the Childcare Choices website to access your eligibility code. You can check your eligibility for both your three year old or four year old on the website. If you do not have access to IT, then you may contact the HMRC Customer Interaction Centre 0300 123 4097 to establish eligibility and secure answers to your questions.
Please note that for three year olds, the entitlement runs from the term after the child’s third birthday until the term in which they become four. Parents are strongly advised and encouraged to access the Childcare Choices website now, if they think they and their child will be eligible in the autumn term.
The following documents provide useful information on the new entitlement. Please be aware that all these documents are subject to change as national policy develops:
*This includes self-employed people who meet the average earnings criteria.
More information on childcare and childcare tax credits can be found at www.gov.uk. or on the Childcare Choices website.
Reconfirming your eligibility for 30 hours free childcare and/or tax-free childcare
Details on how parents reconfirm their eligibility for 30 hours free childcare and/or tax-free childcare.
If you have applied for and/or claimed up to 30 hours of free childcare and/or tax-free childcare, you must re-confirm your eligibility. The DfE has decided that:
- You must re-confirm even if your child hasn't started their 30 hours place.
- You must re-confirm three months from the date you applied to receive their extra hours.
- You must re-confirm every three months.
How do I reconfirm?
- You will get a text and/or email from the DfE four weeks before your reconfirmation deadline. This will prompt you to log into your Childcare Service account.
- In the account you must go to “secure messages “. You can access this section at any time. The section on reconfirmation will inform you of your reconfirmation date.
- You can reconfirm your eligibility up to four weeks before your reconfirmation date.
The reconfirmation process may differ for some parents. For example, if:
- Your circumstances haven't changed you will need to tick a box to confirm this. You will not receive a new code but the existing one will get extended for three more months.
- Your circumstances have changed you must amend and resubmit your details.
- You completed your original application over the phone. You will need to phone the customer interaction centre to reconfirm your eligibility
- You currently have a temporary code (these start with 11) you must complete a new application. You must do this through your childcare service account to get a permanent code
How to re-confirm your eligibility
Sign in to your account
What if I miss the re-confirmation deadline?
If you miss the deadline, or if your circumstances change, you will get a message to say your eligibility has ended. You will be able to keep your childcare place for the grace period. You should discuss this with your childcare provider.
You'll need to submit another application if you become eligible again for 30 hours or tax-free childcare after you've:
- Fallen out of eligibility
- Missed the reconfirmation deadline
You must present your code to your provider again to confirm that your child can continue to access a childcare place.
Please note that the above information applies to additional hours places offered by maintained nursery schools and by nursery classes in primary schools.
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The childcare element of working tax credit
Working tax credit is a payment from the government to support working families on low incomes. If you have at least one child or are responsible for bringing up children and are paying for registered childcare, you may qualify for the childcare element of working tax credit.
The childcare element could pay up to 70 per cent of childcare costs depending on your individual circumstances. You should contact the tax credit helpline on 0845 300 3900 to see whether you could benefit from this scheme.
For further information on working tax and childcare tax credits, please refer to childcare tax credits or telephone them on 0845 300 3900.
You can find more information on the childcare element of working tax credit fact sheet.
Childcare element of working tax credit fact sheet
Many employers now offer employees help to pay for childcare with childcare vouchers. Childcare vouchers are a way of paying for certain types of childcare. The employer gives you the option to take part of your salary, a ‘salary sacrifice’, in childcare vouchers. You will not have to pay tax or national insurance contributions (NIC) on the first £55 per week or £243 per month.
As the vouchers are tax and NIC free, parents can make a saving if they pay for their childcare with vouchers rather than from the normal taxable pay. In order to receive childcare vouchers, your employer will need to be offering a scheme.
Care to Learn
Care to Learn is funding for young parents under 20 years old to help with the cost of childcare while learning. Care to Learn pays up to £175 per child per week towards childcare and travel costs.
To qualify for Care to Learn you must:
- be in, or considering starting, learning that has some public funding
- be under 20 years old on the day your course or learning programme begins
- care for your own child or children.
Care to Learn can be claimed by either the child’s father or mother, as long the other parent is unable to provide childcare (if they are working, for example) or the other parent is not claiming childcare tax credit. If you have more than one child, you can get help for each of them.
Only childcare providers registered with Ofsted can be used. The Family Information Service can help to find a registered childcare provider in your area.
The childcare provider will receive payment direct from Care to Learn. Any funding to help with travel costs will be paid directly to the learning or training provider, who will reimburse the parent.
Visit www.gov.uk/care-to-learn for more on Care to Learn or contact the helpline on 0800 121 8989.
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