The Childcare Offer for Wales
Applications for children starting nursery education in January 2021 are open. Please note that funding for the Offer cannot be received until the application has been completed and a start date issued. Please note funding will not be backdated.
What is the Childcare Offer?
The Childcare Offer for Wales is a Welsh Government initiative and will provide eligible working parents with 30 hours of early education and childcare, for 3 to 4 year olds only.
How many hours am I eligible for?
The Childcare Offer for Wales is a combination of Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) (between 10 – 12.5 hours) and childcare (between 17.5 – 20 hours), for 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 Foundation Phase Nursery hours are offered/accepted the amount of childcare hours will be reduced accordingly.
Who is eligible for the Offer?
Eligible working parents will need to be earning the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum wage, national living wage or more, and be a resident in Torfaen. An upper income cap for working parents is set at £100,000. If part of a couple, both parents must be working and meet this requirement. If either parent earns above this upper income cap, they will not be eligible for the offer.
Where parents have separated but do not share equal custody of the child, the parent with primary custody will be eligible to take up the offer (if they meet the eligibility criteria). Where parents share equal custody one parent will need to be nominated as the lead parent for the offer.
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.
How do I apply?
If you have checked the eligibility criteria please apply online at http://bit.ly/ChildcareOfferTorfaen2020
Please note that children starting nursery education in 2021 cannot apply for the Offer until approximately 6 weeks prior to the start of the nursery term.
Children starting nursery January 2021 can typically expect to apply from November 2020.
Children starting nursery April 2021 can typically expect to apply from February 2021 .
Children starting nursery September 2021 can typically expect to apply from July 2021.
In order to complete the application you will need to submit copies of:
- Childs 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).
Please visit our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/TorfaenFIS for updates about the offer.
Please note that children whose 3rd birthday is between between 1st April – 31st August will not be eligible for the Offer until the September.
How long does the application process take?
If you have submitted an application you can typically expect acknowledgement of your application from Blaenau Gwent Childcare Team within 10 working days.
Parents will be issued with a unique reference number and a childcare booking form that will need to be completed with your chosen childcare setting. 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.
If you have any queries about the status of your application please contact Blaenau Gwent Childcare Offer Team on 01495 355584 or by Email ChildcareOffer@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk.
For general inquiries about the Childcare Offer call Torfaen Family Information Service Freephone 0800 0196 330 or email email@example.com
Frequently asked questions regarding the childcare offer, including eligibility criteria can be found here.
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
Can I use more than one childcare provider?
Yes, you can use up to TWO registered childcare settings per day in addition to their nursery 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 Foundation Phase Nursery 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.
Income Eligibility Criteria and Covid-19
All parents have to evidence that they are in receipt of “income from work” as this is the basic principle on which the Offer is founded.
Information for parents who were once eligible for the Childcare Offer but who, as a result of the impact of Covid-19, no longer meet the income eligibility criteria (although they still meet the other eligibility criteria)
If a parent has fallen out of eligibility (because, as a result of Covid-19, their income has fallen below 16 hours at the applicable minimum wage or gone above £100k gross temporarily because they are a critical worker and can evidence that their income has increased as a result of them responding to the pandemic), they can continue to receive the Offer until the end of March 2021.
Examples of reasons why a parent may have fallen out of eligibility could include:
- They are currently in receipt of UK Government job support schemes e.g. CJRS or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme or similar successor schemes announced by the UK Government but their substantive earnings (what they used to earn before the pandemic) meets the income eligibility criteria for the Offer);
- They are still employed but have taken unpaid leave to care for others, (other than a child eligible for the Offer);
- They are working fewer hours than they would normally;
- They are a critical worker and have worked additional hours in the effort to fight the virus and keep people safe, e.g. in front line health service roles.
Information for Parents applying for the Offer for the first time – who would normally have met the income eligibility criteria for the Childcare Offer but who don’t now as a result of Covid-19
Parents applying for the Offer for the first time from September 2020, will be considered eligible if they can evidence to the local authority that they would normally meet the eligibility criteria for the Offer.
Parents will need to evidence that their earnings met the income eligibility criteria for the Offer before the start of the pandemic but that they have seen a reduction or increase in income as a result of Covid-19, for example because:
- They are currently in receipt of the UK Government job support schemes e.g. CJRS or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme or similar successor schemes announced by the UK Government but their substantive earnings (what they used to earn before the pandemic) meets the income eligibility criteria for the Offer);
- They are still employed but have taken unpaid leave to care for someone (other than a child eligible for the Offer);
- They are working fewer hours than they would normally;
- They are a critical worker and work additional hours in the effort to fight the virus and keep people safe, e.g. in front line health service roles
In the case of established self-employed parents, they will need to provide their most recent Self-Assessment return as proof of earning before the pandemic or provide a forward projection of how they will meet the minimum income threshold over the next year. A newly established self-employed parent will be exempt from the minimum earnings threshold for the first 12 months following the establishment of the business.
Welsh Government Guidance can be found here