By SEHERISH MAHMOOD

Help is at hand with a number of free childcare options to help working families in Kirklees and we don’t want anyone to miss out! 

All 3 and 4-year-old children have been entitled to 15 hours of free learning and childcare during school term time for many years and in recent years, the entitlement has been extended to some 2-year-olds if their parents receive certain benefits or are on a low income. In September 2017, ‘30 hours free childcare’ was launched, which entitles some working parents of 3 and 4-year-old children to an additional 15 hours of free childcare. These entitlements ease the pressures for families who are juggling work and financial commitments.

In Summer 2018, more than 3,000 families benefited from receiving 30 hours of free childcare and we would like more families to benefit.

The free early learning and childcare entitlements can also be used with other schemes such as Tax Free Childcare, Universal Credits or Tax Credits.

Who is eligible? If a 3-year-old child attends nursery for 50 hours a week and the parents are entitled to 30 hours free childcare, they would need to pay for the remaining 20 hours. If they are also eligible for tax credits, they could claim back up to 70% of the cost for the 20 hours, therefore only have to pay for 6 hours. In a similar example, a family with a two-year-old eligible to 15 hours would pay for the remaining 35 hours, but if they were also eligible to claim 70% tax credits they would only have to pay for 10½ hours.

Learning sessions at a high-quality early learning provider can also make a real difference to your child’s future. Research shows that children who go to early learning providers are more confident, learn quicker, and have better language skills. They also have a head start at school and continue to achieve.

Cllr Masood Ahmed, the Cabinet member for Learning and Aspiration said: “I understand all too well that any help to ease the pressures of juggling work and paying for childcare is an entitlement that families really should be taking advantage of.

 “I would urge anyone with 2, 3 or 4-year-olds to find out more about free childcare – there are a number of different options because all working families are not in the same situation. We want all children and families to benefit and get the financial help and free learning they are entitled to.”

Free learning and childcare places are available from a range of approved childcare providers including childminders, day nurseries, pre-schools, and playgroups or schools and academies which have a nursery.

Find out more about the free entitlements and tax-free childcare at:

www.childcarechoices.gov.uk – check the criteria and use the childcare calculator to see which options would benefit your family.

To apply for 15 hours for your 2-year-old visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/freechildcare

To apply for the extra 15 hours for your 3 or 4-year-olds visit www.gov.uk/apply-30-hours-free-childcare

If you need help and advice please get in touch with the Kirklees Family Information Service fis@kirklees.gov.uk 01484 414887.