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10 things all childminders need to know about 30 hours

30 hours is coming.

It seems like we've been talking about it for ages, but in just over six months, the extended childcare entitlement will be rolled out across England (our colleagues in Wales get to wait a bit longer!).

Regardless of your views on the scheme, it is vital that you know the basics of how it will work so that you can make an informed decision about whether you will offer it or not.

Here is a list of the key things every childminder needs to know about 30 hours, as well as what you need to do now to prepare.

1. From September 2017, 3- and 4-years olds of working parents will be entitled to 30 hours per week of government-funded early education and childcare during term time, which amounts to 1140 hours per year.

To qualify, both parents must be working and earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national living wage (or the national minimum wage for those under 25), and no more than £100,000 per year. The number of hours worked is less important than the money earned, so a high-earning parent could be working only a few hours per week and still be eligible.

All 3- and 4-year-olds remain entitled to 15 hours of early education per week during term time (570 hours per year), regardless of their parents' work status and earnings.

2. Most Ofsted registered childminders are eligible to deliver funded places of up to 30 hours per week.

Childminders awaiting inspection, or with a grade of Requires Improvement, Satisfactory or higher (Good or Outstanding) are able to deliver funded places. There are no other requirements.

3. It is not compulsory to offer 30 hours.

It is completely up to you as a provider to decide whether you offer funded places. However it is important to carefully consider the impact on your business sustainability before deciding.

4. Most parents say they will take up 30 hours.

Surveys have repeatedly shown between 80% and 98% of eligible parents plan to take up at least part of the entitlement, and this has been borne out by the early implementation pilots.

You should assume that parents will ask whether they can take up some or all of their 30-hour place with you.

5. It is up to you when you offer funded hours.

There is no mandatory pattern of delivery. Funded places can be delivered on any day of the week, even weekends, any time between 6am and 8pm. There is no longer a minimum session length, but a single session cannot exceed 10 hours.

6. The 30 hours can be ‘stretched’ across the whole year to include school holidays and weekends.

For example, you could opt to deliver the 1140 hours of the extended entitlement over 48 weeks of the year, which would amount to 23 hours and 45 minutes per week, rather than 30 hours. Or all 52 weeks if you'd like!

7. You do not have to deliver all 1140 hours yourself.

The extended entitlement can be taken with up to two providers per day. Parents may therefore choose to split their 1140 hours between two or more providers, for example between a childminder and sessional nursery or pre-school. 

You should speak now to other childminders or sessional providers near you about the possibility of sharing delivery of the entitlement.

8. The rates for all funded hours are changing from April 2017 based on the new Early Years National Funding Formula.

Contact your local authority to find out your new rate. To find out more about how the new rates have been calculated, read our FAQs on early years funding.

9. The rate does not include consumables (meals, snacks, nappies, wipes, etc.) or additional services (outings, classes, etc.).

You can charge parents for these as long as the additional charges are not a condition of taking up a funded place.

10. From September 2018, local authorities will be required to pay childminders monthly.

Three things you should do right now:

  1. Find out your new hourly rate from your local authority

  2. Speak to parents and other local providers about their plans

  3. Decide whether or not you will participate, including how many hours you will offer per week and when you will offer them

Need more information? Read our FAQs on early years funding and 30 hours

Please take two minutes to fill out PACEY's annual childminder fees survey.

Leave a comment below or email Susanna at

Hiya if a child is using their 30 hours funding at a nursery (full time at nursery) but still want a childminder to take to and pick them up from nursery. Does the childminder still class them in their under 5s ratios or can they be classed as an over 5?
07/10/2021 08:34:14

Erica Davis
Currently, can Funding be split as 300hrs Universal with Pre-School plus 270hrs Universal and 570 hours Extended with a childminder - stretched over 48 weeks? Thank you
01/05/2021 07:19:32

Kerrie Lever
How does funding work between two settings - nursery and childminder?
19/03/2021 11:13:12

Hi, my kids are eligible for 30 hours free children and the childminder has agreed to spread the hours to 50 weeks which works out to be 22.8 hours per week. My kids are currently doing 22.5 hours per week, I understand that I do not need to top up unless they do more than the 22.8 hours allowance or if the childminder’s hourly rate is higher than the government funding. Am I right? Will the government pay my children 22.5 hours for 50 weeks or only 38 weeks?
24/07/2020 19:41:20

If a parent falls out with the child minder does she have the right to keep the 15hours a week money till the end of term
12/06/2020 07:32:25

Hi there,
my child turned 3 in December and i decided to let her stay with her childminder But now entitled to 30 Hrs free childcare. she says she can start in jan until july break up for the summer. does that mean she would have August off and start school in september? its abit confusing, does this sound right?
30/12/2019 12:46:28

Hi, my childminder offers the 30 hour funding, however has said that it actually wont work out to be 30 hours as what is paid by the Government is around £4.50 per hour and she charges £6 per hour so either I'll get less than 30 hours or will have to top up by nearly £1.50 an hour to get the 30. Is this right? I thought 30 hours was 30 hours...
19/02/2019 16:29:36

Hi my son turns 3 soon and the Nursery have just provided me with details of the 3o free hours. They spread their hours over 51 weeks. He currently attends two full days (4 sessions) which equal 20 hours. The Nursery are stating that only 10 of these hours will be free (2.5 hours per session) is this correct as I thought it read as I could use the hours as I chose and no stipulation that it had to be over the whole week/set amount of hours. Thanks
07/12/2018 19:06:50

Hi Jen,
Yes you can split the remaining hours across the whole year, it doesn’t have to be within term time and it can be split between two settings per day, for example 15 hours with a pre-school. You can then use your hours with a preschool during term time and then a childminder during the holiday periods.

Best wishes, PACEY
09/05/2018 09:36:17

Hi Sarah,
Unfortunately this might be due to the childminder’s local authority not paying then until the end of the month which is why they may have asked for a payment from yourself. We would suggest that the childminder should contact their local authority and ask them about payments.

Covering the fees would have to be something agreed between yourself and the childminder and we would suggest having a written agreement that the money will be refunded.

Best wishes, PACEY
09/05/2018 09:32:19

Hi Amanda, As long as the childminder has registered themselves to provide 30 hours and this has been approved then you will able to claim the 30 hours with them.
Best wishes, PACEY
09/05/2018 09:31:13

Hi Dec, we would recommend talking to your local authority about this issue as well as contacting Citizen’s advice to get some legal help in regards to terminating the contract.

Best wishes, PACEY
09/05/2018 09:30:56

Hi, I am a parent. Can I have 15hpw provided by a preschool which will obviously be termtime only, and the other hours split across a whole year? Our do they have to match?
03/05/2018 16:44:27

Hi my daughter is entitled to this and child minder has agreed her funding starts now but childminder says I need to pay until end of the month and she will refund me as she doesn’t get paid until the end of the month for it, and I have to pay a top up as the funding doesn’t cover her fees is this ok
15/04/2018 19:10:42

hi, If i was to swap for my sons childminder can i still get the free funding even though the childminder is new ? i got told both things and also i couldn't if hadn't had first inspection is this true please?
10/04/2018 12:14:01

My childminder agreed that they would claim the 30 hours funding in November,(our son was 3 in December) we gave them our code in January, they then invoiced us for the full amount and expected us to pay the funded hours and they reimburse us when they get it. They asked for the full amount and then terminated the contract immediately when questioned where do I stand on this please
06/02/2018 21:03:05

Hi @Kyla, This would be done through your local authority and they will have a process for you to claim for your hours.

Best wishes, Holly, PACEY
30/01/2018 11:58:57

I recently signed up as a childminder to offer the 30hours to 2 3year olds that i care for. I have read all the information but don’t understand how I put my claim in for the hours provided?
30/11/2017 14:31:29

Hi @Lisa, In this case we would suggest you get in contact with your Local Authority. They will have a system in place for this kind of situation and your funded hours. In terms of payment, this will depend on the contract you have with the childminder plus the procedure the LA has.

Best wishes, Holly, PACEY
17/11/2017 13:59:06

My son is funded with a childminder but has given me notice, how will payment work if I have to find him another place but childminder has already claimed for the funded term??
16/11/2017 16:38:52

Hi @Ellie,

Thanks for your comment. Local authorities will not pay two different providers for delivering funded hours to the same child at the same time and this isn’t lawful. You can deliver 30 hours in partnership with the preschool, but this needs to be at different times (e.g. the preschool could deliver from 8.30am-11.30am, and you deliver from 11.30am-2.30pm). Childminders are permitted to charge an ‘on-call’ fee for the time a child is at another setting such as a pre-school, as well as drop-off and pick-up fees. These voluntary fees are one way to recoup the cost of keeping the space open. However, this money must come from the parents, not the LA as part of the 30-hour. I hope this is helpful.

If you have any more questions, do feel free to email

Best wishes, Holly, PACEY
04/10/2017 11:15:05

Hi @Kaye,
Every local authority does it differently. Some pay monthly, some pay 70-80% upfront and then the rest at the end of the term and some pay at the end of term. Generally, LA's should pay you monthly if that is what you would like.

However, the best thing to do would be to contact your LA and they will be able to tell you what it is in your area.

Best wishes, Holly, PACEY
04/10/2017 10:50:04

Hi, i look after siblings and one has just turned 3 and started mornings at preschool. I collect him from preschool at 11:30. It has been agreed with parents that as i can not take another child to fill his place (as it is for so few hours) that they would pay me the hours he is at preschool and i have his brother. But these hours are funded as i have signed up for the 30hours. Is it legal for them to be paying me the hours he is not in my care? Thank you!
02/10/2017 21:04:05

I am a Childminder who has said yes to parents about doing the 30 hours free childcare but have been told I'd only get paid at the end of every this correct information?
30/09/2017 21:35:30

Hi Petra,

With 30 hours, if you are an eligible parent, you will be able to claim this with your childminder. You can keep your 15 hours at your nursery and then have the other 15 hours at your childminder. Once you receive your code for the 30 hours, you need to give this to your childminder, who can verify your code with their LA. This is only if your childminder is delivering the 30 hours offer so I would discuss that with her/him.

Please also be aware that 30 hours is not free and is only there to cover for childcare, therefore there may be additional costs for other items such as food, nappies etc.

I would take a look at our spotlight which has a parent information area you can download -
Additionally, do take a look at

Best wishes, PACEY
27/09/2017 11:41:22

Hi! Im a parent and applied for 30 hours. My son will attend to nursery (only morning session - 15 hours a week) and my childminder will pick him up and he will stay there for an exta 6-7 hours a day.
How does it work for us? Can she provide me with the extra 15hours per week free childcare? How can I find out how much I can save?
26/09/2017 23:17:58

Hi Catherine,

It is common practice for childminders to stipulate a certain amount of paid holidays in their contracts, and there is nothing in the 30 hours legislation which specifically forbids this if you are delivering a funded place. However, we recommend that you contact your local authority to find out whether it has a policy on this issue (this may be included in your 30-hour delivery agreement with the LA).

Best wishes, PACEY
08/09/2017 14:26:20

Hi Zowie,

For the 30 hours, you need to sign up with your local authority. Your parents then need to apply for the 30 hours online on HMRC to receive a code. This code must then be taken by you, to be verified through your local authority. Then the hours can be claimed. For more information I would have a look at our spotlight - and/or

Best wishes, PACEY

as a childminder i have my user id from what i see the parent claims the hours and pays me with a reference number online is this correct as the parents are advising me that i have to go online and request it
06/09/2017 10:41:57

Hi there. I am a childminder , offering the 30 hours funding over a stretched period. Am I still entitled to contribute my contracts which stipulate 2 weeks holidays at full pay ? Thank you in advance
05/09/2017 09:11:25

zowie squires
as a childminder i have my user id from what i see the parent claims the hours and pays me with a reference number online is this correct as the parents are advising me that i have to go online and request it
29/08/2017 16:55:41

Hi Tracey, to sign up to offer the 30 hours you'll need to contact your Local Authority early years team and sign up with them.
Best wishes, Lizzie, PACEY
07/07/2017 10:43:27

Tracey organ
Hi. How do childminders sign up to accept the 30 hr funding?????. I have already signed up for the tax free childcare. Kind regards from Tracey
07/07/2017 07:58:11

Hi Charlotte, unfortunately nieces and nephews are classed as close relations and therefore are ineligible to claim the entitlement with you.
07/06/2017 12:05:18

Charlotte Wilson
Hi, I currently childminder my niece and nephew, am I allowed to claim the 30 free hours for my 3 year old niece? If not they will look for alternative childcare and are currently my biggest payers!!😡
06/06/2017 21:26:37

Hi am I ok to say to a parent that my daily rate doesn't equate to what the government pay so I will charge the difference?
16/03/2017 14:05:51

Lizzie TeamPACEY
Hi Erica,

it's something we're actively looking at. Watch this space!
06/03/2017 12:19:28

Erica Davis
Please, please could you up-date your Childminding Contracts to accommodate the changes to 2, 3 and 4 year old (Free) funding? Including space for Additional Services, Base Rate, Funded Hours, Stretching options, Voluntary Contributions, Optional charges and anything else that you think may be necessary. I have used your Brilliant Contracts, with confidence for 12 years. Thank-you.
04/03/2017 17:15:55

Debs/Rachel - Rachel is correct that the eligibility is the same for single parents. They must be working and earn on average the equivalent of 16 hours per week on the national minimum/living wage and no more than £100K per year.

Iris - eligibility checking is done through HMRC, not the LA. In order to sign up to start receiving 30 hours, a parent must sign up for the scheme through an online portal hosted by HMRC. They must declare that their earnings meet the criteria - and they need to do this every 3/4 months. Each time they do, they will receive a code from HMRC that they can give to their local authority and/or childcare provider for verification. Each LA will have its own online system for checking eligibility with HMRC. Regarding the earnings requirement, the weekly amount earned is less important than the average earnings over the 3/4 month declaration period. If a parent doesn't earn enough/earns too much over this period, they will then enter a 3/4 'grace period' in which they can continue to access the 30-hour entitlement. However, after this grace period finishes, if the parent still does not meet the earnings requirement, they he/she will no longer be eligible for the entitlement.

Kirsty - No, it is meant to say 2018, as LAs have been given an extra year to change their payment systems to accommodate monthly payments. Some LAs will be able to pay childminders monthly before then, but all will be legally required to do so from September 2018.
28/02/2017 15:21:27

Is number 10 supposed to say from Sept 2017 or 2018..?
25/02/2017 09:07:03

Iris Young
Will the LA determine whether a parent is earning enough each week to qualify for the extra 15 hours?
What happens to the funding if a self employed parent has a period when they don't earn the weekly minimum?
24/02/2017 22:32:21

Debs... the eligibility applies to single parents too so they would have to be earning minimum wage of 16hrs or more and earning less than 100k a year. Same for self employed too I believe. Hope that helps 😊
24/02/2017 17:39:21

What if there is only 1 parent?
24/02/2017 13:12:39

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