Understanding Job Centre Plus childcare referrals

Michelle Hood, Together for Twos Development Worker

Part of my Together for Twos Development Worker role is to support Job Centre Plus work coaches, in helping their clients when they have childcare queries, so I was delighted when a referral about a claimant was made to me by one of the work coaches. 

The claimant was a single mother whose child was 4 years old. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, she was self-employed, delivering arts and crafts sessions to pre-school children whilst her daughter went to a nursery setting under the 30 hours of funded childcare scheme for working families. When the lockdown requirements came into force in March 2020, she was unable to run her business. With no source of income, she successfully applied to claim Universal Credit, but was no longer eligible for 30 hours of funded childcare. Her daughter of course was still entitled to attend nursery for 15 hours per week which she continued to do so when childcare settings opened back up.

After the initial lockdown was over, and government restrictions allowed businesses to re-open following social distancing measures, she decided that she would like to restart her craft sessions once more and was organising how to do this safely.  

She wanted to know what her options were regarding increasing her funded childcare hours. I was able to signpost her to information and shared links that could possibly help. The first being Childcare Choices which is a government website that gives information on all types of financial help for childcare costs, and ranges for children from 0-16 years old. Here she would be able to see eligibility criteria, access links for applying for funding, and use a childcare calculator.

I also sent links to self-employment and a change in circumstances due to Covid- 19. I informed her that because she qualified for Universal Credit, she may be entitled to claim back up to 85% of her childcare costs.  She informed me that she would have a look at these options.

On a follow up call during the second lockdown in November 2020, she told me that due to the current climate, it had not been possible to re-open her business. She had however been applying for new employment. She had been successful and was due to start a new job as a Learning Support Assistant in a college in a few weeks’ time.

She was in the process of re-applying for 30 hours of funded childcare but was concerned that her daughters’ nursery no longer had a vacancy for the extra hours needed. I informed her that she could split the funded hours between settings and that a childminder would be a great option to use if she needed the additional childcare. This was something she hadn’t thought about before and was extremely grateful for the information.

She spoke about not giving up on her own business and would be looking at what could be done in the future, considering online and at weekends to keep it going, but for now she was pleased and excited about her new job opportunity and that her daughters’ needs would also be met.