30 hours funded childcare for foster carers
Children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old may be able to get 30 hours funded childcare.
This is an extra 15 hours on top of the 15 hours that all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to.
Accessing 30 hours will not be appropriate for every child in foster care. This change is to enable working foster parents to access this support where it is right for the child as agreed by their social worker.
If you are eligible, you do not have to take up the full 30 hours.
You will usually be able to get 30 hours funded childcare if:
- accessing the 30 hours of childcare is consistent with the child's care plan and
- you (and your partner, if you have one) are working outside your role as a foster parent.
There are no rules about the type of work (which includes self-employment) or number of hours that foster parents must work.
There is no minimum earnings limit for foster carers (although you must be engaging in paid work). The maximum income threshold is £100,000. If your partner is not a foster carer they will need to meet the national eligibility criteria.
You will also meet the criteria for working foster parents if:
- In a two parent household, where both parents are foster carers and one is in paid employment and the other can demonstrate they get qualifying benefits
- In a two parent household, where one parent is a foster carer but the partner is not a foster carer. The foster carer is in paid employment and their partner meets the ‘normal’ eligibility criteria parents have to meet (income threshold of up to £100,000 and working minimum of 16 hours equivalent to minimum/living wage) or can demonstrate they get qualifying benefits.
Please note: Prospective adopters are currently unable to apply for the 30 hours funded childcare for any child(ren) placed with them unless they are also registered as foster carers.
How to apply
- Speak to your foster child's social worker.
You should start to discuss 30 hours childcare as the child approaches their 3rd birthday or when you (or your partner, if you have one) decide to take up additional work. For more information see the section below about when to apply.
These discussions should normally happen as part of your usual supervision meetings and review process.
- Complete the application form
The child's social worker should also sign the form and send it to us.
You will need to show the social worker evidence that you are in paid employment, such as recent pay slips or a tax return form.
- Wait for your eligibility code
We will send you an 11 digit code by email to take to your chosen childcare provider.
Your code will have a start date and an end date. You should make a note of the end date as this is when you will need to reconfirm your eligibility.
- Reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months.
To reconfirm your eligibility complete the following form:
The child's social worker will also need to sign this form and send it to us. They should be satisfied that the placement is on-going, that accessing the 30 hours is still consistent with the child’s care plan and you are still engaging in paid work outside your role as a foster parent.
We will notify you in advance to allow time for social workers to complete the reconfirmation application.
If you are no longer eligible speak to your childcare provider about the 'grace period'.
This is a set period of time to support you to continue accessing funded childcare while you look for other employment should you choose to do so.
You can claim 30 hours the term after your foster child turns three.
You can apply up to 16 weeks before your foster child turns three. We recommend that you apply in good time, so that you receive your code the term before your child becomes eligible.
If you do not confirm your eligibility and receive an 11 digit code by the date listed below, you will not be able to access your additional hours until the start of the next term.
|Child's birthday||When you can access a place||Application signed and submitted by child's social worker by:|
|1 January to 31 March||1 April||31 March|
|1 April to 31 August||1 September||31 August|
|1 September to 31 December||1 January||31 December|
See our finding childcare section for information about childcare and our childcare search facility.