Children are entitled to 570 hours of FREE early education or childcare a year. This is often taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, starting at the school term after a child turns 3 years old.
You can use any of the following as long as they are Ofsted registered and are included on the local authority list to provide the entitlement:
• Day nurseries
• Pre schools
• Nursery schools
• Nursery classes
• Independent schools
• Some childminders
We cannot fund any other types of care, including family arrangements.
Some childcare providers offer places more flexibly, you may be able to stretch the free sessions over more weeks of the year by using less hours each week. Speak to the providers to see what they can offer.
The Children and Families Information Service can help you to find a provider, call 03457 125 737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
|If your child's third birthday falls between:|
Your child will become eligible for a free place from:
|1 January and 31 March||The start of the Summer Term (April)|
|1 April and 31 August||The start of the Autumn Term (September)|
|1 September and 31 December||The start of the Spring Term (January)|
Some two year olds are also entitled to free childcare it will depend on the child's circumstances or family income. To find out more go to: Free childcare for 2 year olds
Childcare providers are required to offer the free entitlement which complies with the following limits. Providers will decide when they are able to offer free entitlement hours as not all providers will be able to offer all the options.
• The minimum length of a session is 2 ½ hours
• The maximum length of a session is 10 hours in any one day
• The 15 hours can be taken over minimum of 2 days
Early Years Pupil Premium is extra government funding that supports children's development, learning and care.
The extra funding which is paid to the free entitlement provider can be used to assist the improvement of a child's early education. For example, by investing in additional staff training and resources to help enhance and further expertise in specialised areas, such as speech and language.
Early Years Pupil Premium child and family eligibility criteria
Eligible Children are:
Their family is in receipt of:
· Income-based Jobseeker Allowance
· Income-related Income support
· Employment and Support Allowance
· Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
· The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
· Child Tax Credit (provided they're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £ 16,190)
· *Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
· Universal Credit
*If the family is in receipt of Working Tax Credit for more than the 4 weeks 'run-on', then the family do not meet the qualifying criteria
· Your child has been looked after by a local authority for one day or more
· Your child has been adopted from care
· Your child has left care under a special guardianship order or residence order
If any of the above applies to you please print and return the following application to your Free Entitlement Provider
The current universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 years olds will continue to be 15 hours per week for 38 weeks (570 hours) of free early education.
The new entitlement is an extension of the current entitlement and provides an additional 15 hours of free childcare for children where parents are eligible.
30 Hours of free childcare - eligibility criteria:
Parents of three and four year olds will need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare:
They earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
This equates to £ 120 a week (or £ 6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £ 112.80 a week (or £ 5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old.
This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
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
*Parents do not necessarily need to actually work 16 hours a week, but rather their earnings must reflect at least 16 hours of work at NMW or NLW, from April 2017 the NMW is £ 7.50 per hour for 25 year olds and over, therefore minimum income would be £ 120 a week.
National minimum wage rate from April 2017:
25 and over
21 to 24
18 to 20
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)
What happens if a parent loses eligibility?
They will receive a 'grace period' - this means they will be able to keep their childcare for a short period
Once the 'grace period' has lapsed, the parent may be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement
Grace period eligibility timescales
Date Parent receives ineligible decision on reconfirmation:
Date local authority checks eligibility:
Grace period end date:
1 Jan - 10 Feb
11 Feb - 31 March
1 April - 26 May
27 May - 31 August
1 September - 21 October
22 October - 31 December
Proposed Eligibility checking process (posted March 2017)
Parents will be asked by HMRC to register with them to check if they are entitled to a 30 hour place. Parents will then be given an eligibility code.
Parents will then be asked to present their eligibility code, National Insurance number and the child's Date of Birth (DOB) to the provider of their choice.
The provider will then complete an electronic check through Cumbria County Council to verify their eligibility. Cumbria County Council is exploring an electronic system to enable providers to do this check. More information will be provided when this is available, however in the meantime we would recommend that the provider attempts to identify families who may be eligible.
Parents will be expected to verify their continued eligibility every three months with HMRC, if they do not continue to be eligible, the additional hours will cease at the end of a notice period (to be determined) this is going to be known as the grace period.
Early years research clearly show that good quality early education does benefit children in the long term, particularly the most disadvantaged. It has also shown that high quality pre-school provision enhances children's social, physical and mental development, as well as helping them to prepare for school, giving them the best start in life.
Children will meet and play with other children, this will help them to build their confidence, the areas of learning include:
• Communication and language
• Physical development
• Personal, social and emotional development
Your child will:
• Experience new and exciting activities
• Make new friends
• Build their confidence and social skills
• Improve their speech and language
As a parent free early education can help you:
• Save on childcare costs
• Have time to explore work and/or training opportunities
• Take on more paid work
• Support your child to play and learn
• Have more time to yourself
To apply for a nursery attached to a school please ring the School Admissions Team on 01228 221582 or visit
To apply to a private, voluntary or independent provider please ask them directly for an application form.
Children and Families Information Service
Tel: 03457 125 737