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Funded 30 hours childcare eligibility requirements

To access a funded 30 hour place the family must have a valid code and the child must be of eligible age.

Suffolk County Council can only fund places where the eligibility codes meet the requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE), and where the child is of eligible age.

This means from the term following their 3rd birthday. With terms starting on 1 January, 1 April and 1 September.

We work to the government's operational guidance for local authorities and childcare providers, which says:

"When Parents can Claim and Start a 30 Hour Place

  • Parents should be encouraged to apply the term before their child turns three to ensure they can access a place when they want it. If they do not receive a code before the deadline, they will need to wait until the following term to access their 30 hours place.

  • Parents can apply up to 31 days before taking up or returning to work. The earliest a parent could receive a 30 hours code for their child is 16 weeks before they turn three. If a parent applies before this point, they will only be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

  • Local authorities are not expected to secure the additional free hours where the parent has applied after the 31st August, 31st December or 31st March."

Please note: Parents can be issued with an eligibility code based on their economic status before their child is of an eligible age. The earliest the family can use their code to start a place is the term following their child’s third birthday.

Parents who contact HMRC may be told that local authorities have discretion to override the "eligible from date" to "make a child eligible", this is NOT the case. Suffolk County Council's IT system for checking codes connects to the government's system and cannot override a child's start date.

Because the operational guidance says a local authority has 'discretion' to choose to fund children who do not meet the criteria for 30 hours place, this advice may be given to parents who contact HMRC. However, Suffolk County Council does not get any money from the government for this, and does not have other money it can use to fund ineligible children.

Suffolk County Council is sympathetic to parents in this situation, and advises you to complain to HMRC and, if you wish, your MP.

If you missed the deadline for this term, please still reconfirm your code with HMRC so your child can get their extended hours next term.

The full details can be found in the operational guidance (June 2018)

Find out more and apply through the government’s Childcare Choices website.

Last reviewed January 2023


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