Early education funding for children in foster care

All 3 and 4 year olds in England are eligible for up to 15 hours per week of early education (up to a set maximum number of hours per term) from the term following the child’s third birthday until they start school.

Children in foster care may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week (up to a set maximum number of hours per term) if their foster carers meet set eligibility criteria meaning some children can access up to 30 hours of early education per week.

Eligible children can access a funded place from the funding term following their third birthday.

Child’s third birthday is: Can access a place from:
Between 1 April and 31 August The following September term
Between 1 September and 31 December The following January term
Between 1 January and 31 March The following April term

 

Applications for the additional funded hours must be received in advance of nationally set deadlines to access the funding terms shown in the table above. For more information please see the next section entitled making an application

All 3 and 4 year olds in England are eligible for up to 15 hours per week of early education (up to a set maximum number of hours per term) from the term following the child’s third birthday until they start school.

Children in foster care may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week (up to a set maximum number of hours per term) if their foster carers meet set eligibility criteria meaning some children can access up to 30 hours of early education per week.

Eligibility criteria for foster carers

If accessing the additional funded hours is consistent with the child’s care plan then a child in foster care may be eligible if the foster carers meet the following criteria.

Single parent foster carers

The foster carer must be engaged in paid work outside their role as a foster carer and earn under £100,000 per year.

Two-parent foster families

Both partners must be engaged in paid work outside their role as a foster carer and earn under £100,000 per year

or

One partner must be engaged in paid work outside of fostering and earn under £100,000 per year and the other partner must be in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:

  • Universal Credit - assessed as having limited capability for work
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

In families where only one person is the approved foster carer:

The approved foster carer must be engaged in paid work outside their role as a foster carer and earn under £100,000 per year and either:

The partner who is not a foster carer is in qualifying paid work and earning a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours per week at national minimum/national living wage and does not earn more than £100,000 a year

or

The partner who is not a foster carer is in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:

  • A foster carer will not be eligible if they are from outside the EEA and their UK residence card says they cannot access public funds
  • Universal Credit - assessed as having limited capability for work
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

An application must be submitted in order that eligibility can be checked in advance of the term beginning. If an application is approved the foster carer will be issued with an eligibility code which they can use to book a place with an eligible childcare setting or school nursery.

Who should the foster carer apply to?

Foster carers should apply to the local authority who is the corporate parent of the child. That local authority will process the application and issue an eligibility code; this code can however be used to take up a place within another local authority area if appropriate.

  • If the child is Looked After by Solihull then the application must be made to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council who is the Corporate Parent of the child
  • If the corporate parent is another Local Authority you must contact them for an application form.

How should the foster carer apply?

If the child is Looked After by Solihull Council then the foster carer needs to complete this application form.

Please contact the Family Information Service on 0800 389 8667 or by email to familyinfo@solihull.gov.uk if you would like a word version of the application form.

Once the foster carer has completed sections 1-6 of the application form they will then need to pass the form to the child's social worker so that they can complete it by confirming:

  • that accessing the extended hours is in line with the child's care plan
  • that they have seen evidence that your family meet the eligibility criteria

Once complete, the child's social worker will need to pass the application form to their manager who will sign the form to authorise the application in their role as 'Designated Person'.

The Designated Person is responsible for confirming that the foster carers meet the eligibility criteria and that accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child's care plan.

The child’s social worker will need to send the completed application form to familyinfo@solihull.gov.uk in advance of the deadlines detailed below to ensure funding can be made available for the following term.

When should the foster carer apply?

Applications must be processed the term before a family wish to take up the additional funded hours.

Completed applications must be received and processed in advance of the deadlines set nationally by HMRC or we will be unable to access the additional funding for the child for the term.

To access a place in: Completed applications must be sent to FIS before:
September term 23 August
January term 23 December
April term 24 March

If the application shows that the child is eligible for the additional funded hours the foster carer will be issued with an eligibility code (The child's social worker will also be notified that an eligibility code has been issued).

The foster carer can use this eligibility code to book a place with their preferred childcare provider as long as they are registered with their local authority to offer funded places. The foster carer can use the eligibility code in Solihull or in another local authority area.

More information about how to access a funded place at a school nursery or private childcare provider is available.

Solihull Family Information Service would be very happy to assist in finding a suitable childcare setting and help with any questions foster carers may have.

HMRC require that we re-check eligibility every 3 months. We will therefore contact the foster carer / the child's social worker at regular intervals to check that your circumstances have not changed.

Please do let us know if your contact details change because without a response to these checks we will not be able to evidence that you remain eligible and the funding will cease.

If the foster carer’s circumstances do not change and the regular re-checks are completed on time then the funding can continue until the term in which the child starts school reception or reaches compulsory school age (whichever is earlier).

If the school reception place does not begin at the start of a term (due to a staggered start/settling in period) then you will still not be able to access the extended hours at the start of that term as the school will have received funding for the whole term for the child.

Your 30hrs early education will therefore cease at the end of the term before the child starts in Reception.

If the foster carer is unhappy about the outcome of their application they should seek resolution through their social worker or through our complaints process