16:37, Tuesday, 20th November 2018

Since September 2017, more than 1,000 families in North Lincolnshire with three and four year-olds have benefited from additional funded childcare hours.

Parents are saving up to £40 a day in childcare costs in Ofsted registered childcare. This is in addition to the universal 15 hours of childcare that all families are entitled to, meaning that families can access up to 30 hours childcare.

Families can access their funded place in Ofsted registered childcare that includes childminders, nurseries, pre-schools, school nurseries, before and after school clubs or any combination of these.

Children that turn three on or before 31 December 2017 may be eligible for the extended hours from January 2018. For the additional 15 hours both parents or a lone parent, where appropriate, must be in employment and expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a week. This is equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage. If one parent is on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or unable to work due to illness, a disability or caring responsibilities they may still be eligible for the additional funded hours. Students and parents that expect to earn in excess of £100,000 (individually) are not eligible.

To apply for the extended 15 hours of funding families should visit the Childcare Choices website.

It is highly recommended that families apply before 30 November 2017 to secure their place for January 2018. Here they can create an account and apply for the 30 hours childcare. Details on all government childcare support can be found on there.

A childcare calculator is available for families that can quickly find out which of the childcare offers available works for their family.

Parents eligible for the funded childcare should apply now to allow enough time for any further documentation to be requested. Any eligibility codes issued after 31 December 2018 will not be valid until 1 April 2019.

Families can apply during the term that their child turns three years of age and will be able to start the next school term where they have a valid eligibility code – autumn, spring and summer.

All eligible parents are supplied with an 11 digit eligibility code to present to their chosen Ofsted registered childcare provider who will then validate the code and discuss attendance patterns. Each type of provider offers different session times and availability, parents should consider their needs and type of childcare that is most appropriate.

Families can choose to split their funding between more than one child carer or can spread the 1,140 of childcare hours throughout the year. A maximum of 10 hours childcare is available in any one day. To help families make a choice, the Family Information Service can supply details of local childcare providers, they can be contacted on 01724 296629.

Families that have an existing 30 hour eligibility code are required to revalidate the code every three months with Childcare Choices. Parents are being urged to revalidate their codes prior to their eligibility end date to ensure a smooth transition each term.

Thirty hours childcare supports families in work with the cost of childcare but can also assist families that wish to return to work or increase their working hours by making childcare more affordable.

Cllr David Rose, cabinet member for Children, Families, Learning and Leisure, said:

“Extended childcare funding for working families is a welcome addition to the support available. It helps families who work, but it can also assist families who wish to return to work, or increase their working hours, by making childcare more affordable.

“If you have a three or four year old who you would like to access the funding in January 2019, you must apply as soon as possible otherwise their funding won’t be available in time.

“The Government’s online childcare calculator is a very useful tool to help you work out which funding option is best for your family, and our Family Information Service is on hand to help you find a local childcare provider to suit your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact them for details.”