The Childcare Offer for Wales
What is the Childcare Offer?
Welsh Government recognises that affordable, available, and accessible childcare enables parents to work, supporting its drive to increase economic growth, tackle poverty and reduce inequalities.
The Childcare Offer provides 30 hours a week of funded Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) early education and childcare for eligible working parents of three and four-year-olds for up to 48 weeks of the year.
As the Childcare Offer for Wales is a combined offer, made up of FPN education and childcare provision, children must be of an age to be eligible to access both these elements at the same time.
The offer is a maximum of 30 hours of combined education and childcare. If parental eligibility has been established, children will usually receive the childcare element of the offer from the term after their third birthday, until they are offered a full time education place.
*Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) early education hours cannot be exchanged for childcare hours*
Childcare Offer holiday weeks entitlement during school holidays
The Childcare Offer will provide working parents of 3 and 4 year olds with 30 hours of funded early education and childcare per week, up to 48 weeks of the year. The term time element is made up of 39 weeks, with the remaining 9 weeks of the offer treated as non-term time or ‘holiday provision’. During these 9 weeks holiday provision, eligible children will receive 30 hours of childcare only each week.
The Welsh Government will not be specifying which of the 13 weeks non-term time are designated as the 9 weeks of holiday provision in order to allow flexibility for parents who are in different occupations, such as those who have to work over the summer or Christmas holidays. However, parents will not be able to ‘stretch’ their entitlements across weeks or transfer unused hours across weeks.
Holiday provision will be allocated at the beginning of each term the child is eligible for the offer. Children will be allocated 3 weeks of holiday provision per term. Any unused allocation can be carried over and used in the next term, provided they are still eligible to receive the offer. Children who are eligible for the offer for one or two terms only will receive 3 weeks holiday provision at the beginning of each term, just as any other child would.
Please see the following 9 weeks pro-rata holiday entitlement:
- A child who is eligible to receive the offer for three terms will be entitled to receive 9 weeks of holiday childcare during school holidays.
- A child who is eligible to receive the offer for two terms will be entitled to receive 6 weeks of holiday childcare during school holidays.
- A child who is eligible to receive the offer for one term will be entitled to receive 3 weeks of holiday childcare during school holidays.
Applications for the holiday entitlement will need to be made at least 4 weeks before the date you require the holiday entitlement. These will be checked within the month leading up to the holiday by the Childcare Unit. If your application is successful you will be notified via e-mail.
Where a child is offered a full-time education place before the September after their fourth birthday (e.g. term after their fourth birthday or the term they turn four), that child is still eligible to receive 30 hours per week of holiday provision up until the September after their fourth birthday.
Children born in autumn or spring terms may be eligible to receive the offer for more than one year. In such cases, at the beginning of the second year a new allocation of holiday provision will be given for the remainder of the time they are eligible to receive the offer.
Please note, once a child is eligible for full-time education they are no longer entitled to the childcare offer during term-time.
To access the childcare element of the offer parents and guardians must:
- Have a child aged 3 or 4 years and is able to access part time Foundation Phase Nursery Education
- Live within Carmarthenshire
- 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;
- For the purpose of the pilot parent/carers will need to earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours at national living wage or national minimum wage per week; or are in receipt of specific caring benefits. Parent will not to be eligible if they earn more than £100,000 per annum – this is a per parent limit
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:
- Incapacity benefit
- Carers allowance
- 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
Kinship carers can access the offer as long as they meet the earnings criteria to be classed as ‘working’, live in Carmarthenshire and are caring for a child who is the correct age to receive the offer.
COVID-19 and the Childcare Offer
Parents and carers may have witnessed a change in circumstances due to COVID-19. You may think you are not eligibility as a result of COVID-19 e.g. if your income has temporarily fallen below 16 hours at the applicable minimum wage, or because you are a critical worker and your income has increased. If this is the case please speak to Carmarthenshire Family Information Service on 01267 246555 or the Childcare Offer team firstname.lastname@example.org or 01545 570881 about your personal circumstances as you may be able to continue to receive the Offer for a period of time.
The application process for parents/carers
Applications will take up to 28 days to process due to the expected volume of applications. Funding will begin from the day the application is approved. Parents are encouraged to submit an application with ALL the correct evidence. This will speed up the process.
Important information for parents prior to applying:
Parents/Carers must have the following information available in the format of a photo or electronically ready to upload as part of their application.
- birth certificate (long version) or birth certificate (short version) with proof of parental responsibility
- Proof of address (Council Tax Bill or Utility bill dated within the last 3 months)
- Payslips – 3 most recent monthly payslips for each parent or if paid weekly each week for the last 3 months.
- If self-employed your most recent Self-Assessment Tax Return.
- If parents are in new employment and do not have a payslip. They must have a copy of their contract or a letter from the employer confirming the income and hours worked.
Anybody having trouble uploading evidence as part of the application should e-mail the evidence to email@example.com immediately after completing the application
Parents who do not attach evidence as part of their application will delay the approval process. Priority will be given to fully completed applications.
Responding to queries such as “when will my application be processed?” will only delay the Ceredigion Childcare team from dealing with actual applications. We kindly ask you to not to contact the team within the 28 day period. We fully appreciate your patience with this.
Please note: If parents choose to use childcare before their application is approved, they are responsible for paying the costs of the childcare. No childcare funding can be back-dated to account for the period before an application is approved.
The online application form is available below (due to high demand there may be periods of unavailability, we ask parents to be patient and try again later if unavailable). When applying if your childcare provider is not on the list please contact your childcare provider directly –
(Please note the application form does time out. Please complete it in one go, it is not possible to save it and come back to it at a later point)