Early years funding - 3 and 4 year olds

Find out about the 15 hours universal childcare everyone can claim, and if you are eligible for 30 hours extended entitlement funding.

If you have a two year old, you can find out about two year old funded childcare here.

All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of government funded childcare. You do not need to apply. You just need to choose your childcare provider and then they will sort out the funded hours for you.

The date you can claim will depend on when your child turns three years old. You can claim up to 15 hours per week for up to 38 weeks of the year.

Child's third birthday When you can claim
1 January to 31 March the beginning of term on or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August the beginning of term on or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December the beginning of term on or after 1 January

Example: if your child was born on 15 April 2015. They'll become eligible to claim funded childcare from the start of term following 1 September 2018.

Additional 'extended entitlement' 15 hours - are you eligible?

On top of the universal 15 hours, some families are entitled to claim an extra 15 hours childcare, bringing the total up to 30. This is called 'extended entitlement'.

Eligibility criteria

The national eligibility criteria which families need to meet are:

  • both parents must be working (or the sole parent if in a lone parent family);
  • each parent must have a weekly minimum income equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage; and
  • each parent must have an income less than £100,000 per year.

A 'parent' is defined as a person who has parental responsibility or care for the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earnings threshold.

The definition of 'working' includes employed people, self-employed people, and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the above criteria.

What if one parent doesn't work?

In a two parent family, both parents must work and fit the criteria above. In a single parent family, the lone parent must work.

However, you would also fit the criteria if:

  • both parents are employed but one (or both) is temporarily away from the workplace on maternity, paternity, parental or 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; or
  • one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits.

Can I claim the 30 hours at any childcare provider?

Please check that your chosen provider can offer the 30 hour extended childcare entitlement. Being eligible does not mean that a child will be guaranteed a place.

Children in a maintained reception class are not eligible for the 30 hour extended childcare entitlement.

Dates by which you need to apply for your 30 hour code for 2019 terms:

  • for the Spring term 2019, from 1 January - apply by 31 December 2018
  • for the Summer term 2019, from 1 April - apply by 31 March 2019
  • for the Autumn term 2019, from September - apply by 31 August 2019

We recommend that you apply at least three weeks before the deadline date, in case of any delays when receiving your code.

Your childcare provider may have set their own deadline for validating 30 hour codes prior to the beginning of each term, particularly providers who are closed for the Summer holidays, for funded places beginning in September.

Please discuss this with your childcare provider when you are required to provide them with your 30 hour code, in order to ensure your child will receive the funding.

To apply for your extended entitlement you will need to:

  • Access the Childcare Choices website and create an account.
  • Enter your details - if you are eligible you will then receive an 11 digit code (you may be asked for additional information at this stage before the code is issued).
  • You must take this code to your early years provider or school.
  • Your provider or school will then validate this code with us before your childcare place is agreed.

You will also need to re-confirm your code every three months. You can do this by signing in to your childcare account.

You can find other sources of support for paying for childcare here, including tax-free childcare which you can use alongside your 15 or 30 hours of funded childcare.

Foster carers are eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the criteria set out above for their own children.

Foster carers who look after early years children from the term after their third birthday can now apply for the 30 hours extended entitlement if they are in paid work outside of their fostering responsibilities. Foster carers will apply via a manual process through the early years funding team, ensuring that applying for the extended entitlement does not impact on the child’s care plan.

The supervising social worker and the child’s social worker will support the declaration as applicable on a case by case basis and the early years funding team will process each application via the eligibility checking service to generate an eligibility code, which the foster carer will then take to their early years childcare provider to be validated as normal.

Foster carers should contact the families information service on 01609 533483 or email fis.information@northyorks.gov.uk for more information and support.

Disability access funding (DAF)

Three- and four-year-old children will be eligible for disability access funding if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and;
  • the child is accessing funded childcare at a North Yorkshire early years funded provider.

To claim this funding you must tell your childcare provider that your child is currently in receipt of disability living allowance.

You will be required to name the specific childcare provider and provide them with a current disability living allowance award letter to enable the claim to be made.

The childcare provider (nominated by the parent on parental agreement) will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £615 in a financial year (April to March). This additional funding is intended to help to eliminate barriers that may prevent children in receipt of disability living allowance from accessing their funded place. You should discuss directly with your childcare provider how this funding is to be used.

Please note, a child is only eligible if they are currently in receipt of disability living allowance and will not be granted this funding if the award letter is not produced.

Disability access funding is not available for two-year-old children.

More support

You can look at our SEND early years information.

Apply for your additional 15 hours childcare

Visit Childcare Choices