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South Worcestershire Parenting & Community Development

Childcare Funding

Childcare Funding

If you are confused about the cost of childcare and the options available to you, then our Family Information Service Team can help.

Our Family Information Service can be contacted on;

Worcester City - Michelle Buckland - 01905 767107 / 07984 005504
Malvern & Wychavon -
Lorraine New - 01905 827391/ 07872 503058


Two Year Funding

What is two year old funding?

Local authorities provide up to 15 free hours of early education per week to eligible families living within Worcestershire. The free hours can be used in any Worcestershire County Council registered early years provision, including child-minders, nurseries and pre-schools and can be broken down into sessions as agreed between the setting and yourself.

Who is eligible?

Children must live within Worcestershire and be between 2 and 3 years of age. Families should be claiming one of the following benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credits with an annual household income of less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credits with an annual household income of less than £16,190
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (for children born after 1st January 2016 and who's parents are on universal credit, their house hold earnings must be less than 15,400 per year.)


Children are also entitled to a free place if;

  • They are look after by Worcestershire County Council
  • They have a current Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP)
  • They are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • They have left care under a special guardianship order, Child arrangements order or Adoption order.



Three & Four Year Old Funding

All children are entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare per week which is a total of 570 hours per year. These 15 hours are known as the "universal hours". Children will continue to be entitled to these universal hours free hours until either the end of the term in which they become five years of age or until they start in a maintained, academy or free school reception class.

These hours can be used in many different ways such as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, or less hours per week for more than 38 weeks of the year. Your childcare provider will have more information about what they can provide to you.

Some children are entitled to an additional 15 hours per week which is known as the "Additional hours" or "30 hours".


Additional Hours or 30 Hours

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 570 'universal' hours of free childcare per year (15 hours a week). However, if eligible, you're entitled to an additional 570 hours of free childcare for the year (additional 15 hours a week, so 30 hours a week in total). 

These hours can be used in many different ways such as 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, or fewer hours per week for more than 38 weeks of the year. Your childcare provider will have more information about what they can provide to you.

To be eligible for the additional hours:

  • you, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a 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 the additional hours of free childcare if you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more.

When do the free hours start?

If you apply in advance, you can start using your free hours from the beginning of the term following your child's third birthday. If you apply after the term following your child's third birthday, then you can start using your free hours from the day that you give your '30 hours eligibility code' to your provider.

How do I apply for a place

You can apply for 30 hours via the HM Government Childcare Choices (opens in a new window) website. If you are eligible you will be given a '30 hours eligibility code' to enter on to your Parent Declaration Form. This includes giving your consent for the code and your details to be validated. If you do not give your consent, your code cannot be validated and you cannot take up your additional hours.

What happens if I stop being eligible?

Your child will enter 'the grace period' when you stop meeting the eligibility criteria. Worcestershire County Council will be able to access information about whether or not your child is in the grace period and will let your provider know. Your provider will then be able to tell you when the grace period will end and when your child will stop receiving their additional 15 hours.

In exceptional circumstances, Worcestershire County Council might extend the grace period and allow you to receive your free hours for longer. This would be to support stability or continuity for a child experiencing difficult circumstances, such as the death of a parent or domestic violence. If this is the case then your childcare provider will apply to Worcestershire County Council on your behalf and let you know whether or not your grace period can be extended.


Tax Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare is a government scheme to support working parents with childcare costs.

For every £8 you pay in, the government will pay in an extra £2. You can get up to £2000 per child per year, or £4000 for disabled children.


You can get tax free childcare at the same time as 30 hours if you're eligible for both.


What are the benefits of childcare provision to my child?

  • Improved social skills -making friends, turn taking
  • Improved communication skills including speech and language
  • Learn through play
  • Arts & crafts
  • Trust in other adults
  • Setting of routines 

Which setting is right for you and your family?  

Child-minders who are registered with Worcestershire County Council can take eligible two year old children. They provide a nurturing home from home environment, where children are able to learn and develop at their own pace in small groups. They are self-employed and provide flexibility to fit around work and family commitments. They are able to offer both term time and holiday provision.

Nurseries have a more formalised opening timetable, providing longer hours of care. They are able to provide daily care during both term and holiday time. Children have a key worker and learn, develop and play alongside other children of a similar age, under the supervision of staff. You can search for childcare in Worcestershire by clicking here.

Pre-schools and play groups provide care, play and learning opportunities’. Sessions are usually term time only and are at fixed times throughout the week. 

All early year settings offering  funded places are registered with Ofsted and provide a safe and nurturing environment where your child can learn and explore.

You can complete and online application by clicking here or contact your local centre.