30 hours free childcare for foster children

From September 2018 foster carers of children aged 3 and 4 may be able to claim 30 hours of childcare, if they meet certain criteria and if it's deemed right for the child.

When a foster child approaches their third birthday, you should start to have discussions with you and your child's social worker about whether accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan, placing the child at the centre of the process.

Qualifying for 30 hours of childcare for foster children

If you are:

  • a single parent, foster family and engage in paid work outside of your role as a foster carer
  • in a two parent, foster family where both partners engage in work outside their role as a foster carer
  • in a two parent family where one partner is not a foster parent, but is in qualifying paid work and works a minimum of 16 hours at the national minimum or living wage

How do I apply for 30 hours of childcare?

You can apply for the 30 hours of childcare using the online form below. You will be asked to provide proof of employment (e.g. payslip, tax return), so please have this ready before starting the form.

Please ensure you have spoken to your supervising social worker before starting the form.

Apply now​

What happens if I am eligible?

Your application will be checked by a designated person (your supervising social worker) and if you are eligible for 30 hours childcare, you will be sent a code which you can pass onto your childcare provider.

You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. We will contact you when this is required.

Where can I use the 30 hours childcare?

You can access the free entitlement at most OFSTED registered childcare providers. These include:

  • private day nurseries
  • pre-school playgroups
  • maintained nurseries (nurseries attached to a school)
  • childminders and childminder agencies
  • independent schools

Details of childcare providers can be found on the Children and families service finder.

​There is no requirement on the type of work or number of hours that a foster parent must work in order to access the 30 hours.

There is no minimum earnings limit (although, they must be engaging in paid work).

However, if your income is more than £100,000 you will be unable to claim the 30 hours.

​No, the child does not have to take up the full 30 hours.

The child's eligibility will need to be confirmed by your supervising social worker.

If accessing 30 hours is inconsistent with the child’s care plan, then the child will not be able to take up a 30 hours place and no code will be issued.

Foster parents can find out more about the process on the Childcare Works website.