Providers can choose to offer funded hours as:
- across 38 weeks of the year - often aligned to school term times, but it does not have to be,
- 'stretch' offer which is over more weeks (than 38) of the year but for less funded hours per week as they are 'stretched' out,
- a mixture of both 38 weeks and stretch - providers can be flexible depending on the requirements of their families i.e. one child may have funding over 38 weeks, whereas another child could have funding as stretched.
Please note: a single child cannot be claimed as both 38 weeks and stretch, at the same setting/ site.
Additional guidance on flexibility:
- Parents can only change from 38 week / term time offer to stretched (or vice versa) at the beginning of a new term.
- Providers must supply funded hours in the same manner as they claim it. For example: if funding is claimed for a child as 38 weeks, this is how the funded hours must be given to the family. Similarly, providers who claim funding a stretched must give funding to families as stretched.
Important: Providers should keep track of funding used up by a child when changing from stretch to term time funding or when a child has moved from another setting.
There could occasions when a child could use up their entitlement before the full year is up.
- as some terms use up significantly more hours depending on the offer supplied by the setting, it means there could be occasion when children changing from 'stretch' to '38 weeks' would use up funding earlier in the third term of the 12 month period than if staying with just 'stretched' or as '38 weeks' through the whole year.
- child claimed for the full entitlement as stretched in spring and summer terms and moved to a 38 week offer in autumn, the entitlement will have been used before the end of term/ by early December
- child had stretch in summer term and moved to a 38 week offer in autumn, child will have used their entitlement by early March of the following spring term.
- In cases when a child uses up their annual entitlement earlier than normal, parents will have pay if they wish to attend for any weeks where the provider does not offer funding, or the child's entitlement as run out in the 12th month.
Children cannot exceed the 570 hours entitlement (or 1140 hours for 30 hours) in any rolling 12 month period.