30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds

In September 2017, we introduced the 30 hour childcare scheme in Barnsley as part of the Childcare Act 2016. The scheme is intended to help families with three and/or four year olds to get back into work or extend their working pattern.

All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week from the term following their third birthday. This scheme will extend the 15 universal hours of childcare currently available to 30 hours a week in total for eligible working families. 

For more information on support with childcare costs and current schemes available, you can contact Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340.

How the scheme will work

  • Families can check whether they're eligible for the scheme at Childcare Choices
  • Those who are eligible have to apply for the scheme on the Childcare Services webpage 
  • Eligible applicants will be given a code, which they have to take to their chosen childcare provider as soon as possible
  • The childcare provider will verify the code with the local authority and confirm the childcare place.
  • Parents must apply and receive their code from the Childcare Service by:
    • 31 August 2022 (for a September 2022 start)
    • 31 December 2022 (for a January 2023 start)
    • 31 March 2023 (for an April 2023 start)

Step by step guide to applying for 30 hours free childcare

Finding a childcare provider

If you haven’t already found a childcare provider, you can search all OFSTED registered childcare on the Barnsley Family Service Directory (FSD).  Call Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340 or email infofis@barnsley.gov.uk if you need help to find the right childcare for your family.

Who can apply for 30 hours free childcare

Only families with children aged three and four years old can apply for the 30 hours of free childcare.

You'll be eligible to apply if:

  • you earn (or expect to be earning within 14 days of applying) the equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum or living wage by the time you take up the additional 15 hours offer.

This equates to £112.80 a week (or £5,800 a year) if you’re between 21 and 24 years old, and £120 a week (or £6,000 a year) if you're over 25.

You won't be eligible to apply if:

  • either parent has an income of more than £100,000
  • either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)

Read more detailed information about eligibility on GOV.UK

Find if you’re eligible for 30 hours childcare by entering your details into the Childcare Choices website. 

The Childcare Choices website also allows you to:

  • check your eligibility for each of the childcare schemes (30 hours and Tax Free Childcare)
  • find out more about each scheme
  • sign up for a scheme or register for email alerts
  • find out what you need to do next

The website allows you to select how much you earn and whether or not you live with a partner. You'll then be presented with your options, which will be highlighted in yellow (schemes you don't quality for will be greyed out). Under each available option you'll see: 'Is it for me?'. Selecting this will display further details and direct you to the relevant place, such as online registration, calculators, email alerts, or gov.uk pages.

If you're not eligible to claim 30 hours childcare

If you've checked your eligibility and you aren't eligible for the 30 hours childcare scheme:

  • you'll still be entitled to take up your child’s universal entitlement of 15 free hours
  • you may be eligible for another scheme; the Childcare Choices site will show you your eligibility for other schemes

How to apply and sign up for an account if you're eligible

Once you have visited the Childcare Choices website to check your eligibility, go to the childcare service webpage.

  • On the webpage, you'll see five headings. Click heading 4, 'Apply or sign into the childcare service as a parent'
  • You'll now see an explanation of the application process. Below this paragraph, you should see a green button that says 'Apply or sign in to your account'
  • You'll be asked to set up a government gateway account (if you don't already have one)
  • You'll then be asked questions about you and your partner, including your National Insurance Number and income
  • At the end of the process, you'll have set up your childcare service account
  • If you're eligible to receive the 30 hours, you'll be given an 11 digit 'eligibility code'. You can see this in your 'secure messages' section of the childcare service account. This is the code you must give to your childcare provider.

From your childcare service account, you can also:

  • access 'secure messages'
  • view or update your details
  • access a tax free childcare account
  • reconfirm your code (you must reconfirm your code on the site every three months)
  • submit a new application
  • update your security details, such as your password and security questions

What to do once you have your code

  • You must take the 11 digit eligibility code to your chosen childcare provider to secure a place. The code will be validated by the childcare provider before a place is offered to your child.
  • Once the code has been validated, you and your childcare provider will agree a date when the 30 hours childcare will start.
  • You'll receive notification in your childcare services account to reconfirm your eligibility for 30 hours before the validity end date.
  • You confirm that your circumstances haven't changed since the initial application or update the application if they have.

If your circumstances change and you're no longer eligible

What happens if you lose eligibility

  • You'll receive a 'grace period' – this means you'll be able to keep your childcare for a short period of time
  • Once the 'grace period' has lapsed, you should still be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement.
  • If you've been taking up the extended entitlement at more than one provider, the local authority should continue to fund 15 hours at the provider of your choice.
  • You should also check Childcare Choices to see if you've become eligible for a different scheme

Appealing a decision

If you disagree with the eligibility decision you receive, you can appeal by calling HM Revenue and Customs, who manage the process, on 0300 123 4097