What is the Childcare Offer?
The Childcare Offer for Wales provides eligible parents with a mixture of early education (between 10 – 12.5 hours) and childcare (between 17.5 – 20 hours) for children aged 3 or 4 up to 48 weeks per year.
Parents are not required to access their early education entitlement as a prerequisite to accessing the childcare element of the Offer, however, their entitlement will include these hours whether they access them or not.
If additional early education hours are offered/accepted, the amount of childcare hours will be reduced accordingly.
Who is eligible for the Offer?
To be eligible for the Offer a parent must:
- Live in Wales;
- Have an eligible child within the age range; and
- Meet one of the following definitions of a working parent or a parent in education or training
- Must earn at least the National Minimum Wage or living Wage for 16 hours a week on average
- Each parent must earn less than £100,000 per year
- Parents of lone parent families need to be working
- Parents of two parent families must both be working
- Parents who are self-employed or on a zero hours contract need prove their status and provide relevant documents
- Parents who are employed or self- employed but are on statutory leave for example, maternity leave
Parents, guardians, step-parents and live-in partners will all need to meet the eligibility criteria in order for a child living within that household to be able to take up the Offer.
Parents in education or training
- In respect of Higher Education – a parent must be enrolled on either an undergraduate or a postgraduate course, including those delivered via distance learning, that is at least 10 weeks in length;
- In respect of Further Education – a parent must be enrolled on a course which is delivered via a FE Institution, that is at least 10 weeks in length.
A parent in education and training should provide evidence of formal enrolment on a relevant HE or FE course. Where a parent has applied and been offered a place on a relevant HE or FE course, but has not yet been able to enrol, they would need to provide evidence of a formal offer of a course place. A parent in education or training who meets the eligibility criteria would be able to access the Offer from the point at which their course commences.
In both cases this evidence should indicate: –
- the start date of the course; and
- the end date of the course and/or the length of the course in weeks; and
- the name of the institution delivering the course
Foster carers, kinship carers and parents on adoption leave may also be eligible. Check your eligibility here: https://gov.wales/check-eligibility-childcare-offer
Exceptions to eligibility:
There are some circumstances in which parents will be able to access the offer when they don’t meet the eligibility criteria:
- Where one or both parents are temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay or are in receipt of statutory maternity / paternity pay.
- Where one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits or has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring;
- Newly self-employed parents
- Kinship carers, family and friends carers who have taken responsibility for a child or step child who is not their own because:
- The child has no parents or has parents who are unable to care for the child
- It is likely that the child would otherwise be looked after by a local authority because of concerns in relation to the child’s welfare
- Two parent households where one parent is working or is in education or training and the other has retired, having reached state pension age, may be eligible for the Childcare Offer if the retired parent was in receipt of one or more of the qualifying benefits before reaching state pension age.
Will I have to pay for anything?
The Offer funds a maximum of 30 hours of early education and childcare in Wales per week for up to 48 weeks of the year. The funding from the government is for the education and care the professionals within the setting provide. It does not include food, transport or off-site activities that incur an extra charge and providers will be able to charge you for these.
The cost of transport will depend on where you live and how far they have to travel. Providers should not charge more than £9 per day for food or £5.75 for half a day (including lunch). Any hours attended outside of the funding will be payable by yourselves.
Will it affect my benefits?
Any funding from the Offer towards your childcare costs could affect other benefits you get.
You cannot use the childcare costs part of Universal Credit for hours of childcare funded by the Offer. You can, however claim Universal Credit childcare costs for any additional childcare you need to pay for. This can be for either your 3 or 4 year old or any other child in your household.
If you get the childcare part of Universal Credit you need to report any changes in your family or work life to DWP on GOV.UK.
You can still receive Tax Credits at the same time as receiving the Offer.
Tax Credits are worked out based on how much you earn and an estimate of your childcare costs. Receiving the Offer may lead to an increase in your income. For example if you can work more hours, or a reduction in your childcare costs. This means that you may receive less tax credits.
If you get Tax Credits you need to report any changes in your family or work life to HMRC on GOV.UK. This includes funding from the Offer to help pay for childcare costs.
You can use Tax-Free Childcare and still receive the Offer for any additional hours of childcare you need.
If you get Tax-Free Childcare you need to reconfirm your details every 3 months.
You may be able to use Tax-Free Childcare to pay for extra costs such as food, transport and retainer fees.
You cannot use Tax-Free Childcare if you receive Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit.
Can I use more than one childcare provider?
Yes, you can use up to TWO registered childcare settings per day in addition to their early education setting in any given day during term time. You can use only use two registered childcare settings during school holidays.
How much childcare can I access during school holidays?
The Offer will cover up to 48 weeks per year, this includes 9 weeks of school holidays. During 9 weeks of these school holidays parents can apply up to 30 hours of funded childcare.
During an academic school year parents could be entitled to 39 weeks of early education and funded childcare. However, parents can only access funded childcare for 9 out of the 13 school holiday weeks. Therefore, parents could be responsible for fees outstanding during, both, term time and school holidays.
Parents can choose which holiday periods they would like to use, however holiday weeks are limited to 3 weeks per term. Parents are advised to speak to their childcare provider to ensure they know how many hours they are claiming during some holiday periods.
How do I apply?
Information for children starting early education in 2023
Eligible parents whose children will be accessing an early education place from January 2023 can apply for the Offer through the national digital system at https://gov.wales/get-30-hours-childcare-3-and-4-year-olds/apply now. This is a bilingual, online service that can be accessed via a laptop, mobile phone or tablet. You will need to create a Government Gateway account to start your application.
To help you get prepared for your application, you will need:
- Your child’s birth certificate
- Proof of address
- Proof of household income or enrolment on a higher or further education course
- Your National Insurance number
- Your employment address with postcode
- Household partner’s employment address with postcode
- Average weekly earnings for you and your household partner
- Gross annual salary for you and your household partner
Eligible parents choosing a school-based nursery should have completed an admissions form and returned to the school of their choice (deadline for applications was in early October 2022). Eligible parents can then apply for the Offer online using the national digital service based on when your child turns 3.
Eligible parents choosing a private childcare setting that is approved to receive early education funding will need to complete an Early Years 1 Form (please contact the setting directly) and apply for the Offer online using the national digital service based on when your child turns 3. Please email email@example.com if you would like a list of all approved childcare settings.
Children born between 1st January – 31st March 2020 will need to apply for the Offer through the national digital service in early spring, dates to be confirmed.
Children born between 1st April – 30th August 2020 will be need to apply for the Offer through the national digital service in early summer, dates to be confirmed.
Please visit our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/TorfaenFIS for updates about the Offer.
In order to complete the application you will need to submit copies of:
- Child’s birth certificate or Passport
- Proof of address, this could be a utility bill or council tax bill
- Last three months wage slips. (If part of a couple you must each provide your last three months’ wage slips, or self-employed earnings evidence. However, if one of you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you will need to provide evidence of this).
How long does the application process take?
If you have submitted an application, you can typically expect acknowledgement of your application within 10 working days.
Please note that funding for the Offer will not begin until a start date has been confirmed and the application process has been completed. Funding will not be back dated.
For general inquiries about the Childcare Offer call Torfaen Family Information Service Freephone 0800 0196 330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org