Applications Open for 15 Hours of Free Childcare for Two Year Olds
In 2023, the Spring Budget established new free childcare plans to support working parents during the cost of living crisis. Formerly, eligible parents of children between three and four could obtain 30 hours of zero-cost childcare per week during term time. However, with the new plans, eligible parents could also receive such childcare support for children under three.
Below, we discuss the new Government plans in more detail and provide insight into when they will be introduced. Then, we explore who could be eligible for this support and how those who are can apply for it.
Free Childcare Applications Have Opened for Two-Year-Olds
With the new support for working parents announced last year, more individuals will be eligible for free childcare. From April 2024, two-year-olds could be eligible for 15 hours per week of free term-time childcare. Then, in September, this will be improved to enable eligible children from nine months old to receive the same support.
Finally, in September 2025, the amount of free childcare available to those between nine months and two years old will double. This means that eventually, children from nine months old to school age could obtain 30 hours of zero-cost childcare. This will be a substantial improvement in childcare support currently only available for children between three and four.
If working parents want to utilise the childcare support available from April 2024, they could have begun applying for it from 2 January 2024. However, parents have been advised by the Department for Education (DfE) to register for this support between mid-January and the end of February.
Eligibility to Receive New Childcare Support
To obtain childcare support, specific criteria must be satisfied by the parents. Free childcare is currently available to parents making a minimum of £8,670 per annum but less than £100,000. The same eligibility criteria will apply to the new support coming into place this year.
Once an eligible child has reached the relevant age, they will be entitled to free childcare from the beginning of the next term. What’s more, the free hours must be used with a registered childminder, which includes certain private nurseries or state-run equivalents.
Concerning the hours themselves, they would typically be taken over 38 weeks during term time. That being said, if one requires cover over a more extended period, this is usually allowed, providing fewer hours are used per week.
Registering for the New Childcare Scheme
As stated above, the first expansion of the free childcare support available comes into place in April 2024. Some working parents may have already begun registering for this newly available support since they could do so from 2 January 2024. Yet, the DfE recommends parents wait until the middle of January, meaning many may still need to register for it.
If a working parent is eligible and wants to register for the new free childcare available, they should visit the Government’s childcare choices page. Here, parents can subscribe for updates, which will be applicable to their local authority. Furthermore, they can learn about the other childcare support available to them and apply for schemes already in place.
Redmans Solicitors is an employment law specialist, and we provide plenty of information for working parents. We also publish lots of other helpful information in the employment sector through our insights. If you have any legal problems and need our help, contact us today.