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30 Hours Free Childcare – 3 & 4 year old Extended Entitlement

All 3 & 4 year old children are currently entitled to 15 hours of free childcare & early learning (570 hours per year), but some working parents will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare (1140 hours per year) if they meet certain criteria.

How Can the Free Hours be Used?

If eligible for the 30 hours childcare,  also known as the ‘Extended Entitlement', the 1140 hours of free childcare can be taken across the year, either in term times only or ‘stretched' across the year for example.

  • Up to 30 hours per week across 38 weeks per year (term time offer)
  • Up to 22 hours per week across 51 weeks of the year (‘stretched offer'). The remaining 18 hours to be used over the year as required.

If your provider is willing to ‘stretch' the offer over 38 weeks up to 51 weeks, this will be indicated on the Childcare provider's record within the FID easily filtering those who do.  Your provider may currently be offering ‘stretch' for the 15 hours free entitlement, please ask them.

Do I Have to Use the Free Childcare at Only One Provider?

As long as you don't claim more than 30 hours per week in total the free hours can be split between up to 2 different providers. You may find that your provider is going to be working in partnership with another to enable you to use the full 30 hours. Poole Family Information Directory (FID) will be offering an additional filter so that you can easily find those providers who intend to offer the 30 hours extended entitlement.

How Many Free Hours a Day Can I Have?

You will need to discuss this with your chosen provider to jointly agree the most appropriate length of time in consideration of your child's well-being.  The Government’s set maximum session length of 10 hours is unchanged.

When Will my Child Become Eligible?

As with the existing 15 hours entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds, children become eligible for the extended entitlement at the start of the school term after their 3rd birthday - the code is not valid before then.  


Children born in the period

Eligible for free funded hours

School Term

1 January – 31 March

1 April


1 April - 31 August

1 September


1 September – 31 December

1 January


Do I Meet the Eligibility Criteria?

Both parents must be in work, as defined below, and for single parent families, the sole parent must be in work. To work out whether you, or your partner qualify, you will be assessed for eligibility.

For the purpose of the scheme (Extended Entitlement) ‘in work' is means being in employment (including self-employment) and earning more than the equivalent of the national minimum wage for working 16 hours per week, in other words you may not be working 16 hours to meet the criteria. 

As an example, the current minimum wage is £7.50 per hour for over 25’s, so the minimum weekly income to be eligible would be £7.50 x 16 = £120.00

Each parent must also earn less than £100,000 a year.

One parent must be ‘in work’ if the other receives disability benefit or benefits related to caring responsibilities.

Can I Check my Eligibility Online?

You can check your eligibility on-line at If eligible you will receive a unique code, which you share with your chosen provider(s).  For a place in the school Autumn term (ie September) you need to obtain this code prior to 31st August.  Codes obtained after that date will secure places in Spring Term, ie. from January.

Do I Apply Once, or Do I Have to Apply Every Term?

Because your circumstances may change, you will receive an email and be asked to reapply to keep your code valid every three months.

Maternity Leave & Statutory Sick Leave

Families with a working parent who is on temporary leave from work, such as maternity leave or statutory sick pay, are still considered to be in work and will be eligible for the free 30 hours childcare if they meet all the criteria.

What Happens if I Lose my Job?

If either or both of the child's parents stop work at any point, after a short ‘grace period’ to support you to find a new job, the child will stop being eligible for the additional 15 hours free childcare.  This also applies to other changes to circumstances which affect eligibility.  See table below: 

If parents’ eligibility status changes in the period;

The child will continue to be funded until;

First half of Autumn Term

End of the Autumn Term

Second half of the Autumn Term

End of first half of Spring Term

First half of the Spring Term

End of the Spring Term

Second half of Spring Term

End of first half of Summer Term

First half of Summer Term

End of the Summer Term

Second half of Summer Term

Start of the Autumn Term

Can I Access the 30 Hours Free Childcare for a Child Whom I Foster?

No. Foster carers may be eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children but they cannot claim the 30 hours childcare for children who they foster.

Special Education Needs or Disability (SEND)

Each provider, under the SEN Code of Practice must publicise the support they offer. Poole settings complete the same form so that parents can compare across provision to guide their choice and understanding.  On receipt, the provider form is uploaded to the provider's record within the Poole Family Information Directory, as a pdf. Additional information is available to parents in the Local Offer.

Where Can I Find More Information?

Please use the Family Information Directory, where you will find all Poole early years providers listed to enable you to search and return easily, or contact the FIS Childcare Brokers for assistance on telephone: 01202 261970.

We are keen to hear from you and want you to be able to take-up this opportunity.  If you are unable to contact the Childcare Brokers please use the feedback form if you have any type of query or difficulty.  

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