FAMILIES are being encouraged to find out if they are entitled to 30 hours free childcare extended entitlement per week under a new government scheme.
Parents with a child who is three or four-years-old and who earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at National Minimum or Living wage may be entitled to take advantage of the new initiative.
The entitlement to 1,140 hours of early years education and childcare, which is being introduced from September 2017, can be taken in term-time only or stretched across the year.
All three and four-year-olds are currently entitled to universal 15 hours a week of free early years education and childcare which will continue in tandem with the new scheme.
The eligibility criteria set by the government says in order to be eligible the child must be at least three-years-old and under compulsory school age (eligibility would apply a term following the child’s third birthday). The child’s parents must meet certain criteria, including, both parents working, or sole parent working in a lone parent family, and each parent earning, on average, a weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours National Minimum or the Living wage and less than £100,000 per year.
However, there are some exceptions and parents can check their eligibility by visiting: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/
Parents will have to reconfirm their eligibility through the HMRC website on a three-monthly basis. If a parent’s circumstances change and they are no longer eligible they will enter a grace period before the child’s funding would be reduced to the universal 570 hours per year.
The government is also introducing a scheme called Tax Free Childcare (TFC) which can be applied for along with free childcare extended entitlement through a single online form.
Not all providers will be able to offer the additional hours due to restrictions on their premises or they may choose to remain offering the universal offer of 15 hours. Some providers may choose to work together to offer the hours split between them.
Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Education, said:
“Childcare is obviously a very important area for families and it is essential parents understand what they are eligible for.
“Reading has a good supply of childcare and the Council has been working with providers to ensure there is sufficient provision for the expected increase in demand once the free 30 hour care scheme is introduced in September.”
To find out which providers are going to be offering the Free 30 hours childcare extended entitlement in Reading, please visit www.reading.gov.uk/FIS or telephone the Family Information Service on (0118) 937 3777, option 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org