30 hours free childcare / early education - Provider Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Do providers have to offer 30 hours?
No. It is a provider’s choice whether they deliver the 30 hours entitlement or not. They can choose to offer some or all of the hours. Parents are free to shop around to find appropriate funded provision.
Who can offer 30 hours
Day-nurseries, childminders and playgroups that are registered on the Early Years Register, and childminders registered with an Ofsted-registered Childminder Agency can deliver the 30 hours entitlement in full, or work in partnership with other providers to deliver
part of it. Schools can also offer 30 hours. Parents will be able to split their entitlement across more than one provider
How will providers know if a child is eligible?
Parents will apply online and will be given a unique code; they must give this code to their provider, along with their national insurance number and child’s date of birth, so that the provider can confirm with their local authority or a provider portal that it is a valid code. If they are eligible, they will receive a 30 hours eligibility code.
Each area will have their own system for doing this and many will mirror the checking process for the two year old entitlement. We are funding local authorities to put digital portals in place so that providers can check this quickly and simply.
How can sessional providers deliver 30 hours?
We encourage providers to work in partnership to offer 30 hours. For example, sessional providers who cannot offer 30 hours a week can work with childminders to offer wraparound care which meets the needs of working parents eligible for 30 hours.
Do parents have to take up the full 30 hours?
No, parents eligible for the 30 hours can take up any amount of childcare up to a maximum of 30 hours
Can providers charge for meals?
Providers are able to charge parents for meals, nappies and discretionary items such as trips and additional teaching such as learning a musical instrument. However, these charges are voluntary and at the disrection of the parent and therefore cannot be a condition of accessing any free entitlement place.
Providers should deliver the free entitlements consistently to all children accessing any of the free entitlements, regardless of whether they opt to pay for optional hours, services, meals or consumables.
How much will providers be paid?
Local authorities determine the funding rates for providers in their area based on the EYNFF Operational Guidance . All local authorities must tell providers their hourly rate before 31st March 2017. Local authorities must now pass on the majority of the funding they receive centrally to providers – from 2017/18 they must pass on 93% and from 2018/19 at least 95%.
Local authorities will offer the same funding rate for both the universal 15 hours as well as the additional 15 hours. They must also offer a universal base rate to all types of providers by 2019-20.
Will providers be paid more to meet the needs of children with SEND?
Additional financial support is available for providers to support access for children with special educational needs.
New legislation requires all LAs to have a SEN Inclusion Fund, and to consult on how it will be allocated. In addition, the new Disability Access Fund (DAF) will pay £615 per year directly to providers to support access into early years for eligible children. Parents will need to apply for this allowance. Providers will be able to use the parent declaration form template, due to be published alongside the Model Agreement to identify eligble children. LAs will then check that the DAF eligibility requirements have been met before releasing any funds. Further information can be found within the EYNFF Operational guidance.
Children with an identified special educational need (ECHP) will receive additional funding.
Are there any other funding supplements for providers?
Local authorities must grant a supplement on the basis of deprivation. They also have the discretion to award supplements on the basis of rurality/sparsity, flexibility, quality and English as an additional Language.
Is funding for maintained nursery schools being cut?
Maintained nursery schools (MNS) are an important part of the early years sector, they provide valuable high quality services, often to disadvantaged areas, and make an increasingly important contribution to social mobility. We are giving LAs enough funding to allow them to maintain current levels of MNS funding, and we will consult in due course about their future. We want them to have a greater role in the pedagogical leadership of the early years system, and the sustainability to do this in the longer term. We also want local authorities to make full use of their expertise, experience and resources in whatever way local need requires.
Where can I get further help/resources to support me?
DfE has launched a business sustainability toolkit with an initial suite of products available from:
Other useful documents are also available from: