Can my 2 year old get a funded place?
If you are claiming any of these benefits the answer is yes:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Child Tax Credit and have an Annual income not over £16,190 (CTC)
- Working Tax Credit and have an Annual income not over £16,190 (WTC)
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
- The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit and have a net annual household earnings below £15,400 (this means your take-home pay from any paid employment, after Income Tax and NI contributions have been deducted)
Two year olds are also eligible if they:
- Have current statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC)
- Attract Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- They are Looked after by their Local Authority
- Have left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order
Please note: If your circumstances change your funded place will not be taken away.
How many hours is a funded place for?
Eligible children are entitled to 15 hours a week of funded childcare during school term times. Some childcare providers/settings may be able to spread the hours over a year if you ask them. If you meet the criteria, your child can start the term after their second Birthday (or at any point after).
How do I apply for a funded place?
The easiest way is to apply online.
You’ll be able to check to see if you’re eligible (under household income) and print off your own confirmation voucher. Applying under the other criteria will mean someone will check your eligibility for you and then let you know.
You can also apply by filling in a paper application form/leaflet and these can generally be found in local libraries, children’s centres, health clinics, job centres and other public places. Your child’s health visitor will also have forms and may help you to fill it in if you need them to. Forms are ‘freepost’ so you won’t need a stamp! We aim to let you know if you can have a free place within five days.
Families who are applying under the additional criteria for Disability Living Allowance, child is looked after through special guardianship or adopted, child has a current Statement of SEN or Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC), will need to submit proof and copies of relevant documentation of the aforementioned to confirm eligibility. This can be posted or emailed into the Think2 Team.
If I need help to find childcare can you provide it?
Yes, you can also search for childcare in your area through the Family Services Directory. If you apply through post we will send you a list of childcare available in your area.
If you want someone to talk to and/or visit childcare providers with you please tick the box when you apply.
How long will it take and how will I know if my application was successful?
Almost instantly online (if you apply under the household income criteria). For all other applications (including paper based) within 5 working days. If you have completed a free post form and our checks show you are not eligible we'll try again for you for up to four weeks.
Applications will not be reviewed and processed until the child is at least 21 months old.
What happens after I apply?
If your child is entitled to a funded place you will be able to print a voucher off (online applicants) or will receive a confirmation letter (paper based applicants). You can then make arrangements with a childcare provider, who can tell you if they can provide a funded place. The provider could be a nursery, pre-school or childminder. Some schools may also take two year olds if you want to check with them.
What happens if I get back into work and no longer claim the benefits listed?
The good news is that once a place has been agreed by the County Council, your child’s funded place will not stop even if your situation changes and you don’t need to notify us.
What happens if I move or want my child to go to a childcare provider not in Staffordshire?
Staffordshire County Council cannot fund 2 year olds that are attending childcare providers outside of Staffordshire. You will need make an application to the council for the area that the childcare provider is located in to confirm eligibility and funding.
A 2 year old who lives outside of Staffordshire but who is attending a childcare provider in Staffordshire, will need to make an application to confirm eligibility. If the family is eligible we will pay for your child to attend a Staffordshire childcare provider.
What happens when my child turns 3?
These funded places are set up so your child will get the hours right until they start school. Even if your situation changes, your child’s funded place will continue. All 3 and 4 year olds get funded places so your child will automatically move on to this offer the term after they are 3. There will be no gap in funding and you don’t need to do anything. Your childcare provider/setting will explain this to you.
What if I receive Working Tax Credits?
Some parents get help with childcare costs through the childcare element of Working Tax Credits (WTC) which is paid by HMRC; this is a means tested allowance which can pay up to a maximum of 70% of the childcare costs for one child.
But you will be better off financially by claiming the funded 15 hours if your 2 year old is eligible. For the 15 hours per week over a 38 week period (maximum entitlement allowed), your childcare would be 100% paid for by the funded childcare scheme.
Parents of funded 2 year olds cannot claim the WTC element on any of the funded 15 hours a child receives, as these hours are already paid in full on your behalf. However, if an eligible child attends for more than 15 hours, then you can still claim the Working Tax Credits (WTC) on any extra hours after the 15 funded hours.
You can claim Tax Credits and Tax Free Childcare on hours, services and consumables you have to pay for, go to Childcare Choices 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.
What if I wish to take up non funded hours or services at a provider?
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.
Can I spread the funded hours over more than 38 weeks?
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 term time only providers will not be able to offer stretched.
Can I take funded hours at more than one provider?
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.
Do I have to sign anything for funded hours with my provider?
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.
Can my child change setting during the term, and if so what happens next?
If you wish to change setting part way through a term, you can do so, if you need a new voucher please contact us. The funding will follow your child to their new provider. The new provider can then claim from when your child starts with them.
Parents are urged to check on the notice period of their provider before moving the child out of the provision.
What else must providers do before the child starts their funded place?
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.
I do not understand if I am receiving the funding as agreed?
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.
What if I wish to make a complaint?
If you are still unhappy that you are not receiving your child’s funded hours as agreed, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 0300 111 8007. You must clearly outline the issue, 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.
If you are unsatisfied with the local authority you can contact the Staffordshire County Council’s Customer Feedback and Complaints Service.