30 hours funded childcare 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.

Some 3 and 4 year olds 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 carer/s meet set eligibility criteria. This means that some 3 and 4 year olds in foster care can access up to 30 hours of early education per week in total.

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

 

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:

  • 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 all cases 

Accessing the extra childcare funding must be consistent with the child’s care plan.

Applicants can not usually access the extended funded hours if they are not a British or Irish National. An exception to this is if they have acquired settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), if they have made an application through the EUSS and are waiting for a decision or if they are appealing a decision on their EUSS application. In this case the Foster Carer(s) will need to provide evidence in the form of written or email confirmation from the Home Office.  Some EEA citizens may be able to confirm their status on-line. 

The applicant must also confirm that they are not subject to any immigration rules preventing them from receiving public funds. If the child is placed with carers for adoption then they cannot apply through the Foster Carer’s scheme.

Prospective adopters must meet the criteria for parents accessing the scheme and apply through the national childcare service.  More information is available here. If the prospective adopters do not hold the child’s birth certificate, they will need to provide HMRC with the adoption placement order from the adoption agency.

An fully completed application form must be sent to familyinfo@solihull.gov.uk by the child's social worker. For more information about the application deadlines please see the section entitled ‘making an application’ below.

If an application is approved the foster carer will be issued with an eligibility code they can use to book a place with an eligible childcare setting or school nursery.

Who should the application be made to?

The foster carer/s and child’s social worker 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. The eligibility code can be used to take up a place within another local authority area if appropriate.

  • If the child is Looked After by Solihull Council then the application must be made to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (who is the Corporate Parent of the child)
  • If the child is Looked After by another council the application must be made to that council (who is the Corporate Parent of the child) so the foster carer should contact them for an application form.

How should I apply?

If the child is Looked After by Solihull Council then the foster carer/s should work together with the child’s social worker to complete this application form.  The social worker can contact Solihull Family Information Service to request a Word version of the application form if this is more convenient.

The child’s social worker will need to see evidence from the foster carer to show that their household meet the eligibility criteria (most recent payslip, P60, benefits statement etc). The child’s social worker must send the fully completed application form to Solihull Family Information Service at familyinfo@solihull.gov.uk 

Please note that the application must be received by Solihull Family Information Service in advance of the strict deadlines detailed in the section below.

When should I apply?

Applications must be processed the term before a fostering 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 familyinfo@solihull.gov.uk by:
April term of 2024 23 March 2024
September term of 2024 23 August 2024
January term of 2024 18 December 2024

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 be notified that an eligibility code has been issued).

The foster carer can use this eligibility code to book a funded 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 here.

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

HMRC require that we re-check eligibility every 3 months. Solihull Family Information Service will therefore contact the child's social worker at regular intervals to check that the foster carer’s circumstances have not changed.  

It is vital that the social worker responds to confirm that they have seen up to date evidence of the foster carer/s eligibility or 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 child's 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.

The early education funding will therefore cease at the end of the term before a child starts in reception/school.

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