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30 hours funded childcare

If you already receive 30 hours funded childcare funding be sure to re-confirm your details before the start of each new term. See 'Do I have to renew my details?' in the drop down box below for more information.

If you are a foster carer, please skip to the bottom of this page. Your application process is different. 

If you are an armed forces family due for posting, please read this guidance on using your 30 hours entitlement abroad.

Support for eligible working families

Implemented in 2017, you may be entitled to 30 hours of funded early education and childcare for your 3 or 4 year old child.  That’s 30 hours a week during term time (38 weeks), or 1140 hours a year to use flexibly.

This offer includes the 15 hours currently available to all children of this age group.  

You (and your partner if you have one) must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

The detaills:

  • You can use no more than two providers in one day
  • You can use a maximum of 10 hours in one day
  • You need to check your eligibility the term before the funding starts for the additional hours
  • You need to discuss and agree in advance with your childcare provider(s) how you use your hours, e.g. 30 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year, or 22 hours per week over 51 weeks of the year which is a total of 1140 hours over 12 months.  Your provider will be able to advise on how they can accommodate your needs. 

The application process:

You can apply if the child usually lives with you – you do not have to be their parent, however foster carers are exempt.

You need to apply the school term your child turns 3 years, as the funding will start the following term.

Child's birthday

When you can claim

1 January to 31 March

The beginning of the summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

The beginning of the autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

The beginning of the spring term on or after 1 January

Use the childcare calculator to see what childcare support you could get.

If you apply for Tax-Free Childcare, you won't be able to get:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • childcare vouchers from your employer

Your Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit payments will stop automatically if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible, you (and your partner if you have one), must either:

  • each expect to earn at least £120 a week or work more than 16 hours at the National Living Wage (unless you became self-employed less than 12 months ago), or each expect to earn at least £111 a week or work more than 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage (unless you became self-employed less than 12 months ago)
  • each expect to earn at least £61.92 a week if you're under 18, £84.80 a week if you're aged 18-20 or £52.80 a week if you're an apprentice (either under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship)

You, and your partner, must also both:

  • live in England
  • expect to have income of less than £100,000 each a year

If you and your partner are unemployed, you and your partner must become employed within 14 days of applying. You may get different eligibility outcomes for each of your children if you apply for 30 hours free childcare for more than one child.

You're not eligible if:

  • you're in receipt of a childcare grant
  • you're a full-time student/an intern
  • you're not entitled to receive public funds

Circumstances where you may still be eligible:

You can use 30 hours free childcare if you're already getting Universal Credit or tax credits, and you can still apply for 30 hours free childcare if you or your partner:

  • are taking paid time off work, such as maternity leave, paternity leave or sick leave
  • are temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if you're in the military (on duty)

You can also still apply for 30 hours free childcare if either you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • you've been assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purposes

I think I qualify, what do I do now?

You'll be able to apply for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare in a single online childcare service application. If you're eligible, the Government will open a childcare service account for you (you only need to complete one application for all your children).

Before you apply, make sure you have (for you and your partner, if you have one):

  • your National Insurance number
  • if you're self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference
  • the date you started, or are due to start work
  • details of any other government support you get

Apply via the childcare service.

If you encounter any problems with the application process or accessing the childcare account, you should direct your queries to the Childcare Service Customer Interaction Centre on 0300 123 4097.

I have a code, what do I do with it?

If you're eligible for free childcare, you'll receive a 30 hours eligibility code, a unique 11-digit reference number. This code is important as you'll need it to claim this offer.

Take the code to your childcare provider, along with your National Insurance number and your child's date of birth. Your childcare provider will check the code with the local authority to confirm your eligibility. You and your provider will then be able to discuss how these additional hours are to be used.

Once arrangements have been finalised, you will need to complete a Parent Declaration form and a contract – remember to keep a copy of this contract.

How to find your 30 Hours Code if you have already applied 

How do I find childcare?

The Family Information Service is Cornwall’s official source for details about Ofsted registered childcare providers within the county. Use our listings to find a provider, but please be aware:

  • Not all providers are able to deliver the full 30 hours, in this circumstance you can use more than one. But you can use no more than two providers in one day.
  • Not all providers are eligible to receive this funding, so check this first with the provider.

Extra costs.

The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables e.g. nappies, sun cream, or additional hours or activities - such as trips. Providers may charge a fee for these additions.

If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider; check your contract for details.

Do I have to renew my details?

Yes - every three months you'll need to reconfirm that you're still eligible for 30 hours free childcare. You'll be reminded to reconfirm your eligibility 4 weeks before the deadline. If you also receive Tax-Free Childcare, you'll be able to reconfirm your eligibility for both schemes at the same time. You can reconfirm online by signing into your childcare account, using your Government Gateway ID and the password you chose when you applied.

You don't need to take your code to your provider or local authority every time you reconfirm however, you should notify your provider if you fall out of eligibility.

If you have on-going applications for more than one child, the point at which you'll need to reconfirm will be aligned for all children. This means you won't need to go online to reconfirm at different points in the month for each child.

If you don't reconfirm, your childcare provider and local authority will be told that you no longer meet the requirements for a free childcare place.

If you become ineligible you may still be able to access your free childcare place for a short period, known as a 'grace period'. You can check what your grace period arrangements are with your childcare provider or local authority. If you're no longer eligible, you can still access the 15 hour early education entitlement which all 3 and 4-year-olds receive.

What is a grace period?

The grace period enables you to retain your childcare place for a short amount of time should you become ineligible for 30 hours.

Date you receive ineligible decision on reconfirmation

Grace period end date

1 Jan – 10 Feb

31 March

11 Feb – 31 March

31 August

1 April – 26 May

31 August

27 May – 31 August

31 December

1 September – 21 October

31 December

22 October – 31 December

31 March

If your circumstances change during your grace period, try reapplying for the offer as you may become eligible again.

My circumstances have changed – what do I do?

If your circumstances change while you are in receipt of 30 hours childcare, you need to update your information on your childcare services account.

I am a foster carer and would like to apply for the 30 hours funding.


Children in foster care will be able to receive 30 hours free childcare from September 2018, if the following criteria are met:

  • That accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan, placing the child at the centre of the process and decision making


  • In single parent foster families, the foster parent engages in paid work outside their role as a foster parent. 
  • In two parent foster families, both partners engage in paid work outside their role as a foster parent. If one partner is not a foster parent then they must be in qualifying paid work and earn a minimum of the equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum/national living wage. 

Funding for 30 hours is available from the term after:

  • your foster child turns three, and
  • the date you receive your eligibility code from Cornwall Council.

Whichever date is later.


We recommend that you apply in good time, so that you receive your code the term before your child becomes eligible. You can apply up to 16 weeks before your foster child turns three.

If you need more help please contact the Nursery Funding Team by telephone on 01208-265688 or email .

30 Hours – Children in Foster Care Applications Process

30 Hours Free Childcare for Foster Children Application Form

Find out more about Fostering

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