30 hour childcare scheme

Funded childcare for working parents of three and four year olds.

To access 30 hours extended entitlement you must have applied for, and be in receipt of, an eligibility code by the following deadlines:

  • 31 August - funding starting in the autumn term
  • 31 December - funding starting in the spring term
  • 31 March - funding starting in the summer term

Please be aware it can take up to 15 days from date of application for HMRC to issue a code. The validity start date is the date a code is issued and not the date of application. Please ensure you allow sufficient time when applying to ensure your code is received by the relevant deadlines detailed above.

All three and four year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of funded early education a week for up to 38 weeks a year (570 hours a year). This is known as the ‘universal entitlement’.

The government doubled this entitlement to 30 hours a week x 38 weeks of the year (1,140 hours a year) to support working parents with childcare costs.

The entitlement can be 'stretched' less hours, more weeks dependent upon your childcare providers availability.

Benefits of accessing 30 hours free childcare

The Department for Education have produced a number of case study videos about the benefits of accessing 30 hours childcare. You can watch the videos on YouTube

Am I eligible?

Parents of three and four year olds will need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare:

  • You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £167 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). 
  • If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.
  • You can't get either 15 or 30 hours childcare if you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 adjusted net income or more.
  • Eligible working families can get up to 30 hours childcare. This cannot be used in addition to the 15 hours available for all 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
  • If a non-EEA national, the parent must have recourse to public funds.

Children in foster care who are aged three or four year old will be able to receive 30 hours childcare, if the following criteria are met:

  • Accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan; and
  • That, in single parent foster families, the foster parent engages in paid work outside their role as a foster parent; or
  • In two parent foster families, both partners engage in paid work outside their role as a foster parent. If one partner is not a foster parent then they must be in qualifying paid work and earn a minimum of the equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum/national living wage.

You should start by discussing this with the local authority responsible for the child (child’s corporate parent) in Salford this is the child’s social worker. 

Please read further information on our fostering section.

Who will not qualify?

A parent will not meet the criteria when:

  • Either parent has an income of more than £100,000
  • Either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)

When can my child start?

  • Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they are eligible and have received a valid eligibility code, whichever is later. Term start dates are 1 September, 1 January and 1 April.
  • To keep your 15 or 30 hours childcare place you need to check your details are up to date every three months.

How do I apply?

The Department of Education has produced a short ‘how to apply for 30 hours' animation video that you can watch on YouTube.

You must apply for the extended entitlement hours through the Childcare Choices website.  

You will need:

  • Your National Insurance Number, and your partner’s National Insurance Number (if applicable)
  • Child’s name and date of birth

If you are eligible, you will receive an 11 digit code to take directly to a participating childcare provider. 

They will then gain your written permission to verify the code with the Local Authority. 

Once verified, a place can be confirmed for the funding period after your child becomes three years old.

When can I start using my extended entitlement hours?

If you are eligible for this funding it will begin the term after your child’s third birthday.

Please note: if you become eligible after the start of a funding period, you must wait until the following period to access your extended entitlement place.

The funding periods are:

  • Autumn - 1 September to 31 December
  • Spring - 1 January to 31 March
  • Summer - 1 April to 31 August

When would my extended entitlement hours stop?

You will be prompted by text, and/or email every 3 months to reconfirm your eligibility details. If you do not reconfirm, or your circumstances change, you will only be able to access the extended entitlement hours for a short time known as a ‘Grace Period’.

Date parent receives ineligible decision on
LA audit date Grace period end date
Between 1 January and 10 February 11 February 31 March
Between 11 February and 31 March 1 April  31 August
Between 1 April and 26 May 27 May 31 August
Between 27 May and 31 August 1 September 31 December
Between 1 September and 21 October 22 October 31 December
Between 22 October and 31 December 1 January 31 March

If the grace period has expired and you have not met the eligibility criteria again, you would only be able to access the universal entitlement (570 hours per year). 

Extended entitlement hours will also stop

  • When your child reaches compulsory school age
  • When your child attends a reception place in a maintained school or academy 

This page was last updated on 22 February 2024

Free childcare funding for three/four year olds

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