When can I access the Offer?
The offer will begin from the term following your child’s third birthday until the September following their fourth birthday.
Parents can take up the childcare offer at any point during this time period, so long as they are eligible to do so. Parents should be able to access the offer from whichever point they wish during that term, providing their child was eligible from the beginning of that term, or earlier. This includes parents who move into a pilot area or gain employment.
Please note that you will only be eligible from the date stated on the confirmation letter you receive from the Childcare Offer team once your application has been processed.
Who is eligible for the Offer?
To access the childcare element of the offer parents and guardians must:
Live in a designated pilot area
Be employed or self-employed and permanently reside in Wales. Both parents/co-habiting couples must be working in a two parent family, or the sole parent in a lone parent family;
Earn a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at the national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW) (around £111 and £115 per week at the current NMW and NLW rate respectively). There is currently no upper limit to a familys’ household income (this may change as the pilot progresses)
For the purpose of the pilot, parents will need to prove they are working a minimum of 16 hours a week, through their earnings. There will be no maximum earnings threshold for the pilots.
Where parents have separated but do not share equal custody of the child, the parent with primary custody will be eligible to take up the offer (if they meet the eligibility criteria). Where parents share equal custody one parent will need to be nominated as the lead parent for the offer.
Parents, guardians, step-parents and live-in partners will all need to meet the eligibility criteria in order for a child living within that household to be able to take up the offer.
What happens if I or my partner loses our job?
Should a parent fall out of eligibility, a temporary exemption period of 8 weeks will be granted during which they will be able to continue to access the offer.
Exceptions to eligibility:
Parents who are temporarily away from the workplace either because of sickness or because of parental leave (including maternity leave, statutory shared parental paid leave or adoption leave) will remain eligible to receive the offer as they are considered to be employed.
Where one parent meets the eligibility criteria and the other parent is in receipt of one of the following benefits, that child will still be able to access the offer:
Severe disablement allowance
Long term incapacity benefit
Employment and support allowance
National insurance credits on the grounds of incapacity for work or limited capability for work
Families where both parents are in receipt of the above benefits will not be able to access the offer.
Family and friends carers (also known as Kinship carers) are those who have taken responsibility for a child or step-child who is not their own because:
The child has no parents or has parents who are unable to care for the child;
It is likely that the child would otherwise be looked after by a local authority because of concerns in relation to the child’s welfare
Kingship carers can access the offer as long as they meet the earnings criteria to be classed as ‘working’, live in a pilot area and are caring for a child who is the correct age to receive the offer.
Can I use more than one childcare provider?
Yes you can use up to TWO registered childcare settings per day in addition to their FPN setting in any given day.
Can I accrue my hours?
No. An accruals / banking system will not be in place from September 2017 across the pilot areas. Parents will be provided with a total of 30 hours a week of combined FPN provision and childcare with parents choosing how much of the 30 hours to take up. Any hours not used in a week will be lost.
How will the offer work outside of term time?
The childcare offer will cover up to 48 weeks per year. Foundation Phase Nursery Provision is available for up to 39 weeks per year, therefore eligible parents will be able to access 30 hours of childcare for the remaining 9 weeks of the year.
Eligible parents can access their 9 weeks of holiday provision whenever they chose. However, it is the parent’s responsibility to find a provider that offers the provision that best suits their needs. For the purpose of the pilots parents will need to access their provision in week long blocks. Hours of childcare cannot be accrued across weeks.
The Childcare Offer for Wales
What is the Childcare Offer?
The Childcare Offer is 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for eligible working parents of three and four-year-olds for up to 48 weeks of the year. It consists of a combination of the existing Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) provision open to all three and four-year-olds and additional funded childcare for eligible families.
How many hours of childcare am I eligible for?
The offer is a maximum of 30 hours of combined education and childcare. RCT already offers children, from the term following their 3rd birthday, 15 hours of FPN education. This means that during term time, eligible parents can access an additional 15 hours of childcare.
Parents are not required to access their early education entitlement in order to access the childcare element of the offer. However their entitlement will include these hours whether they access them or not.
If your child’s school offers full time FPN, then your term time entitlement through the Childcare Offer will be taken up by the FPN provision. You will still be eligible for 30 hours of childcare for nine weeks of the school holidays.