Information for Parents

The Childcare Offer for Wales (30 hours Childcare) – Update August 2020

The Childcare Offer for Wales will be opening again for applications during August and September.
 
Parents who would have been eligible for the Offer from April 2020 (the summer term) will be able to take up the Offer from the start of the autumn term, if still eligible.  The application process will open for those parents on 14th August.

If you submitted an application before the Offer was suspended, you will be contacted by the team and asked to resubmit evidence of your salary (and address evidence if you have moved), so that your application can be reviewed.
 
Parents whose child becomes eligible for the Offer in September (child turned three on or after 20th April) will be able to apply from 1st September.  Please note funding cannot be received until the application has been completed and a start date issued. Funding will not be backdated. 

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.  Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council already provides every child with 12.5 hours of FPN education meaning that during term time, eligible parents can access an additional 17.5 hours of childcare.

Parents are not required to access their early education entitlement as a prerequisite to accessing the childcare element of the offer, however, their entitlement will include these hours whether they access them or not.

If additional Foundation Phase Nursery hours are offered/accepted the amount of childcare hours will be reduced accordingly.

When can I access the Offer?

The offer will begin from the term after a 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 the 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/carers must:

  • Live in Blaenau Gwent
  • 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).

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.

Information for parents who were once eligible for the Childcare Offer but who, as a result of the impact of Covid-19 in the period March – 31 August 2020, no longer meet the income eligibility criteria (although they remain eligible in every other way.

If a parent has fallen out of eligibility because, as a result of Covid-19, their income has fallen below 16 hours at the applicable minimum wage or gone above £100k gross temporarily, they can continue to receive the Offer until the end of October.  This broadly aligns with the closure of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme on 19 October and the furlough scheme which closes at the end of October.

Examples of reasons why a parent may have fallen out of eligibility temporarily during this period could include:

  • They have been furloughed but their substantive earnings (what they used to earn before furlough) meets the income eligibility criteria for the Offer;
  • They are on Statutory Sick Pay;
  • They are still employed but have taken unpaid leave to care for others, other than a child eligible for the Offer;
  • They are working fewer hours than they would normally;
  • They are in receipt of payments from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Information for parents applying for the Offer for the first time - who would normally have met the income eligibility criteria for the Childcare Offer but who don’t now as a result of Covid-19.

Parents applying for the Offer for the first time from September 2020, will be considered eligible if they can evidence to the local authority that they would normally meet the eligibility criteria for the Offer.

Parents will need to evidence that, as a result of Covid-19, their earnings in January or February 2020 met the income eligibility criteria for the Offer but that they have seen a reduction in income since then (for example) because:

  • They have been furloughed but their substantive earnings (what they used to earn before furlough) meets the income eligibility criteria for the Offer;
  • They are on Statutory Sick Pay or Sick Pay;
  • They are still employed but have taken unpaid leave to care for others, other than a child eligible for the Offer;
  • They are working fewer hours than they would normally;
  • They are in receipt of payments from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

In the case of established self-employed parents, they will need to provide their most recent Self-Assessment return as proof of earning before the pandemic or provide a forward projection of how they will meet the minimum income threshold over the next year. A newly established self-employed parent will be exempt from the minimum earnings threshold for the first 12 months following the establishment of the business

Exceptions to eligibility:

There are some circumstances in which parents will be able to access the offer when they don’t meet the eligibility criteria:

  • Where one or both parents are temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay or are in receipt of statutory maternity / paternity pay.
  • Where one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits or has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring;
  • Newly self-employed parents
  • Kinship carers, family and friends carers 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

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. 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. Hours of childcare cannot be accrued across weeks.

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