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Frequently Asked Questions


Funded childcare places are available for families with children aged from 2 to 4 years old.

For 2 year olds:

• Think2 – 15 funded for families what may not be in work, low income or receiving additional government support. Find out more and how to apply
• Working Parent Entitlement – 15 hours is available for working parents of 2 year olds. Available from April 2024

For 3 and 4 year olds:

• Universal 15 hours – 15 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds
• Working Parent Entitlement – in addition to the universal 15 hours, working families could receive an extra 15 hours to make 30 hours. Find out more on funded places for 3 and 4 year olds.

Parents can access the Working Parent Entitlements from the term after they have successfully applied for an age eligible child.

Parents can access funded hours at registered childminder, both private and school based nurseries, pre-schools and some wraparound providers. Children could access funding up until and including the term a child turns 5 years olds, but 4 year olds attending a primary school reception will not be eligible as this is considered a full time school place.


Apart from the universal hours for 3 and 4 year olds, parents will have to meet the eligibility criteria and apply for all other elements of funded childcare, this includes:

• Think2 – 2 year funding for low income families receiving government support.

  • Parents apply to Staffordshire County Council. Successful applications will receive a confirmation code that you must give to your childcare provider.

• Working Parent Entitlements – for 2 year olds and includes the extra 15 hours for 3 and 4 year olds.

  • Parents must meet the criteria and apply via the government website Childcare Choices. Parents who receive a code must present this to their childcare provider so it can be validated.
  • Fosters Carers and their Social Worker must apply to Staffordshire County Council for the Working Parent Entitlement, not to Childcare Choices. Find out more.

*Childcare Choices are solely responsible for checking eligibility on application made to them for the Working Parent Entitlements.

  • Think2 – once parents have applied and received a code, this funding remains in place until the child becomes eligible for the universal entitlement for 3 year olds.
  • 3 and 4 year olds Universal 15 hours – all children are entitled to this funding in England regardless of circumstances.

Working Parent Entitlements:

Families who have applied to Childcare Choices will be sent reminders from them advising parents to reconfirm their eligibility every 3 months. Parents who fail to reconfirm or are no longer eligible could lose their funded hours.

*Foster carers will be sent reminders to reconfirm from Staffordshire County Council and not Childcare Choices


Families who fall out of eligibility will receive what is called a Grace Period. This is an extended period of time where a child receives the Working Parent Entitlement so parents can either reconfirm the code or find employment.

Once the grace period has lapsed, parents who do not meet eligibility will lose access to the Working Parent Entitlement. In these circumstances parents may have to pay for their childcare but should also consider other options for help with childcare costs:

  • 2 year olds – Think2 – funding for families not in work, low income or receiving additional government support.
  • 3 and 4 year olds – Universal Hours - families who lose the extra 15 hours that made up 30 hours, will revert back to being eligible for just the universal 15 hours.
  • Additional Support for childcare costs can be viewed at Childcare Choices

Parents should be advised that they may not be able to access their Working Parent Entitlement if they move childcare provider or child starts a funded place when already in the Grace Period.

Parents who re-apply to Childcare Choices after the grace period will be able to access the Working Parent Entitlements from the term after a re-application has been made.

Parents must speak to their childcare provider about how the funded places can be taken at the provision. Providers can differ from the times in the day they are open and offer funded places. Providers can offer funding as 38 weeks during term time or school holidays, or across the whole year, which is called a ‘stretched offer’. Some providers may do both but it is at their discretion.

Below are the parameters providers can offer funded places within:

  • No more than a maximum of 10 hours in a day.
  • No minimum requirement.
  • Between the hours of 6.00am to 8.00pm - Monday to Friday.
  • at weekends.
  • For the universal 15 hours, the entitlement could be offered over no less than across 2 days.
  • For the full 30 hours, the entitlement could be offered over no less than across 3 days.

Speak to your provider about their offer.

Parents can choose that their child attends for just the funded hours, but only on the days and hours that are supplied by the provider and depending on their availability. Parents are under no obligation to purchase additional hours, food, nappies, trips, clothing or any other consumable or service just to gain access to funded hours.

Parents are under no obligation to use up all the funded hours their child is entitled too. It is at the parent’s discretion how many hours/ days they wish their child to attend within the provider’s offer. Providers can only claim for hours you have agreed for your child to attend with them.
Providers can charge for a deposit so parents can secure a placement, though providers should consider whether a charge should be applied to a family claiming 2 year funding (Think2). Such a deposit can be kept if the child did not start the place but providers must reimburse a deposit by the end of the same term (or off-set against paid for elements) a child starts a Think2 funded placement.

 Parent should not be charged a registration fee if a child is attending for the funded hours only. When parents are paying for extra hours or services it is possible a registration fee could be off-set against those paid for elements.


If your child does attend for hours that are not part of funded sessions supplied by the provider, you will be charged for these hours. Items such as food, nappies, trips clothing, other consumables and services, the provider is entitled to charge for if accessed by children. These charges are determined by the provider.


Some providers are open all year and may offer parents the option to ‘stretch’ funded hours. This means parents will have less funded hours per week but it would be spread over more weeks of the year (i.e. across school holidays). This offer is at the discretion of the provider and 38 week ( or term time only) only providers will not be able to offer stretched.

Yes, Parents can split funded hours between multiple providers, but no more than at two sites in one day. This can be between any type of provider. Parents will need to decide how many hours their child attends for at each site as providers must agree to this.

Yes, for the funded hours it is a legal requirement that all families must sign the Parental Declaration that will be provided to you by your childcare provider. On this form you will identify key aspects of you own personal information as well as your child’s. You will also need to advise how many hours you wish your provider to claim for your child.

In the case of the child being eligible for 30 hours and a split arrangement is in place to access the funded hours at more than one provider, the parent must identify which provider will claim the universal 15 hours.

Children must attend for the agreed amount of funded hours you have requested your provider/s  to claim, or the funded hours will be reduced or cease if non-attendance is a regular occurrence.


If you wish to change setting part way through a term, you can do so.  The funding will follow your child to their new provider.  It is the responsibility of the provider your child is leaving to inform the Local Authority that you child has left/is leaving - otherwise they would be 'over-claiming' on their part. The new provider can then claim from when your child starts with them.

Parents who change from a stretched offer ( in summer ) to a 38 week / term offer (in autumn) and are accessing the maximum entitlement, should be aware that their annual entitlement could end sooner than normal in the third term of the year. This is because of more funded hours are used in summer term as a stretched offer compared to a 38 week/ term time offer.

Parents are urged to check on the notice period of their provider before leaving

Yes, you can claim Tax Credits and Tax Free Childcare on hours, services and consumables you have to pay for, go to www.childcarechoices.gov.uk for more information. However you must inform HMRC if your circumstances change when claiming Tax Credits and Tax Free Childcare as you cannot get assistance for the hours which you are receiving the funded places.

Providers sign an agreement with their local authority, that outlines they must provide parents from the outset of the placement with information on how their child’s funded place will be supplied to them. Providers must also inform parents clearly for additional charges parents will incur on non-funded hours, consumables and services.


Providers must make it clear on invoices the amount of funded hours and monetary value of those funded hours supplied / taken for the invoice period. For additional charges for non-funded hours, consumables and services the provider must again clearly outline for what you have been charged for in the period.

This so parents can clearly identify they are receiving their child’s funded hours as initially agreed with the provider.

The provider must inform parents of the monetary value of a funded hour at their provision. But providers cannot charge top ups on the funded hours, this is the difference between the funding the provider receives and what they normally charge.


Parents should speak to their provider in the first instance as in most cases such issues can be cleared up easily. Parents should request a clear breakdown of:

  • days and hours the funded hours/ place is supplied to the child.
  • the charges you pay for i.e. non funded hours, meal, trips.
  • a monetary total of charges against what you have saved on funded places.
  • term time or stretched offer.

If you are unhappy that you are not receiving your child’s funded hours as agreed, you can email: eeac@staffordshire.gov.uk You must clearly outline the details of the enquire and any evidence (emails, invoices etc), the name of the childcare provider as well as supplying your child’s name and your own contact information. All enquiries are treated in confidence.

Enquiries will be reviewed and where possible an update will be provided in 20 working days from when relevant information was sent to the service. We may need to acquire further information that could result in it taking longer to resolve disputes.

If you are unsatisfied with the local authority you can contact the Staffordshire County Council’s Customer Feedback and Complaints Service.

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