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For parents, includes how to view, accept and change agreements for Childcare Offer funded hours.

First published:
7 November 2022
Last updated:

Overview

Once you have been notified that your application has been approved, you must create an agreement in your Childcare Offer for Wales online account to ensure your chosen childcare setting(s) can claim funding for the childcare hours provided.

The Childcare Offer for Wales is made up of two elements: early education and childcare. These two elements make up 30 hours a week of Government-funded early education and childcare.

You may find it helpful to view the following animation before you start: How does the Childcare Offer work? (on YouTube)

Childcare setting

A childcare setting is a childcare service that is registered with Care Inspectorate Wales, or Ofsted in England, and also registered to deliver the Childcare Offer of Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government. This could be a childminder, nursery, playgroup, crèche, Cylch Meithrin or out of school childcare club. You can choose your own childcare setting that meets your child’s needs.

Your local Family Information Service will be able to help you find a registered setting that offers the service that meets your needs when accessing your funded hours in Wales.

Information you will need

If you intend to access the early education element of the Offer, you need to apply directly to your local authority before you begin to complete the Childcare Offer for Wales agreement on the digital platform. If you have had that education place confirmed then have those details to hand. You will need to know the town and postcode  of the education setting. If, when inputting the details of your early education setting, you are presented with an option of ‘am’ or ‘pm’ or September / January / April intake, please ensure you select the correct one.

If you are not planning to take up your child’s early education entitlement, you are still able to access the childcare element of the Childcare Offer for Wales. However, the number of early education hours that are available to you will automatically be deducted from term time hours, to show the funded childcare hours available to you for term-time, holiday time, or both. In this instance please select ‘I don’t want to use early education’.

You will also need to have identified the childcare setting you wish to use and have had a conversation with that childcare setting about the funded hours you would like your child to receive at that setting. Once you have discussed and agreed your childcare hours with your setting, you must create an online agreement for funding to be claimed at this setting. You will need to know the registered name, town and postcode of this setting in order to create your online agreement.

Setting an agreement start date

Agreement start dates can only be in the future and must start on a Monday. You will need to choose which week you wish your agreement to start. The earliest date that appears will be the earliest date that you are eligible to receive Childcare Offer funding.

If your child’s first day at a childcare setting is a day other than a Monday, please choose that week as the week within which your online agreement commences. For example, if the child attends the setting for the first time on a Wednesday, choose the Monday of that week.

To ensure your childcare is funded from your chosen date, you must create and submit your agreement online before the first Monday of funded childcare. Your setting must confirm the agreement online by the Thursday of the first week at the very latest.

Setting an agreement end date

Your online agreement end date will automatically be set to the date your eligibility ends. If you know you will want to end this particular agreement earlier than the eligibility end date, please confirm this requirement when prompted. You must then enter your new agreement end date in the correct format (dd/mm/yyyy).

You will, however, be able to cancel or end this agreement at any time throughout your eligibility period. The 'Cancel agreement' option is on the child’s summary screen.

Early education setting

All children are entitled to early education (previously known as Foundation Phase Nursery) from the term after their third birthday.

All local authorities provide a minimum of 10 hours per week early education, either in the local school or in a setting like a playgroup, a day nursery, or Cylch Meithrin. 

During term time, this early education will be part of the Offer’s 30 hours. During the school holidays, when there is no early education, the Offer will provide 30 hours a week of childcare for eligible parents, for up to nine weeks per annum. 

Your local Family Information Service will be able to help you find a registered childcare setting that offers the service that meets your needs when accessing your funded hours in Wales.

I don’t know my early education setting

If you do not know your early education setting at the time of creating your agreement, then the standard default hours of early education offered by your local authority will be applied.

As soon as you know your early education setting you will need to sign in, view and change your Childcare Offer hours and update the details in your child’s summary screen. Your local authority will contact you if this remains as ‘unknown’ in the system.

Please note that when you update your education setting, if your early education setting offers more than the default hours applied for education at the time of creating the agreements, the hours of funded childcare available to you during term time will reduce accordingly and you will need to amend any agreements.

My childcare or early education setting doesn’t appear as an option

If your childcare or education setting doesn’t appear on the list please contact your Family Information Service. It may mean that the setting has not registered on the digital service to deliver the Childcare Offer for Wales.

I use more than one childcare setting during term time or holidays

You are able to use up to two different childcare settings (in addition to your early education setting) in term time, and up to two additional settings during holiday time. If you use more than one childcare setting, please complete a separate online agreement request for each setting. The balance of funded hours available to you after creating each agreement will be shown in the system.

My child attends more than one early education setting

Some early education settings are not able to provide the full minimum allowance of 10 hours of early education. If your early education setting informs you of this, you will be able to access the remaining hours in another early education setting. Your local authority will help you with this. You can only select one education setting at the moment so you will need to select the education setting where you access most of your education hours which for calculation purposes will show as 10 hours.

The digital service will only allow you to input one early education setting. Therefore, you will need to input the setting where you access the most hours. The system will automatically allocate the early education hours available to you, meaning that the remaining balance for the purposes of arranging funded childcare hours will be accurate.

My early education setting or hours are changing

If your child is moving to a different early education setting or if your education setting increases the education hours at the start of a new term you will need to update the online system with this information.

As an example schools/childcare settings that have different hours each term will display as ‘setting/school name’ September intake, or ‘setting/school name’ January intake . You are required to update this as the terms change. Your local authority will contact you if this isn’t updated in the system.

Some local authorities offer a different amount of Early Education hours for the autumn term. In these instances, the system will update the number of Early Education hours that your child is entitled to for the autumn term. Where this change means the combined number of Early Education and funded childcare hours exceeds 30 hours, your local authority will contact you to reduce the number of funded childcare hours in your Childcare Offer agreement.

If the local authority is unable to contact the parent or the parent has failed to make the change, the local authority will update the Childcare Offer Agreement on the parent’s behalf.

In some local authority areas, children will move to a new Early Education setting in the autumn term. Parents of those children will need to update the Early Education setting after the summer term has ended so that agreements in place for the summer term are not affected. Parents can do this by clicking the Change link next to the currently displayed Early Education setting on the child summary page.

If the change to your Early Education setting means the combined number of Early Education and funded childcare hours exceeds 30 hours, an error message will appear, and you will need to discuss with your childcare setting to reduce the number of funded childcare hours in your agreement. The setting will need to make the change online, and the parent will then need to approve this change before changing the Early Education setting.

If these changes have not been actioned 1 week before the start of the September term, the local authority will make the changes, with notifications going to parent and childcare setting.

If you have a combined term time and holiday agreement in place where the maximum hours are fully allocated, and your child is moving between education and childcare settings in September, please contact your local authority via the national helpline for further information.

Selecting my chosen setting on the system

To ensure you are setting up an online agreement with your chosen childcare setting please be sure to choose the setting with the correct name, town and postcode. There are some childcare settings with the same name across Wales so ensuring the address is accurate will mean that the correct setting will receive the agreement request.

You must discuss the number of hours to be used with the childcare setting prior to completion of the online agreement.

Maximum hours

This is where you will enter the maximum number of hours that you may wish to use in any one week with a particular childcare setting.

This feature allows for parents who need flexibility with booking differing hours each week (if the setting allows). As an example, if your setting allows shift patterns to be accommodated you may book more hours one week than the next, within this maximum.

Therefore, this process is not a booking system; its purpose is to ensure your entitlement to funded hours. You will need to book your childcare hours directly with your childcare setting. The hours you book with the setting should not exceed the maximum set here.

Please note, some settings offer provision on a half-day or full-day basis only, and that’s what is charged for (or claimed for under the Offer), whether those hours are used or not. This is a contractual/business matter between you and the childcare setting to agree.

Childcare settings can operate their business how they wish, but they must not treat Offer children in a different way to non-Offer children.

Setting up an online agreement for school holiday weeks

To set up an online agreement for school holiday weeks, you will follow the same process as for term time weeks. You will need to first discuss the childcare hours you need with your chosen setting, before creating an agreement online. To ensure your childcare is funded from your chosen date, you must create and submit your agreement online before the first Monday of funded childcare. Your setting must confirm the online agreement by the Thursday of the first week of funding at the very latest.

This process is not a booking system; its purpose is to ensure your entitlement to funded childcare hours. You will need to book your childcare hours directly with your childcare setting. The funded hours you book with the setting should not exceed the maximum set in the online agreement. However, you can choose to self-fund childcare hours over and above this maximum if you wish.

My chosen setting has rejected my requested agreement hours

If your childcare setting has rejected your agreement, you will receive a notification email to check the online system which will also display a reject notification. You will be prompted to contact your setting for the rejection reasons. Selecting the ‘Remove request’ button will remove the agreement from your dashboard, reinstate the childcare hours back to you and give you the opportunity to submit a new agreement request.

My chosen setting has made changes to my requested agreement hours

If the childcare setting has made a new suggestion of hours to be provided, you will receive a notification to check the online system and a revised agreement will appear on your dashboard for you to review and accept changes, or reject the agreement. You will get a reject notification and the hours will be credited for you to create a new agreement

My chosen setting has accepted my requested agreement hours

When a setting accepts your agreement request, an email notification will be sent to you to notify you that there have been changes on your system and to please sign in. You will be presented with your dashboard where you will see further details. On approval of an agreement request, you will see the status of APPROVED in your child’s agreement summary. You can view or cancel agreements from here. If you have more than one child with agreements, select the child and view their details on their own summary screen.

I want to cancel my agreement or change its end date

To cancel your agreement or change its end date, you should first talk with the childcare setting. If you have not adhered to the contracted notice period, you may be liable for charges.

Once you have informed the setting, you may cancel your agreement as follows:

  1. view the agreement in your Childcare Offer account
  2. select 'Cancel agreement'
  3. enter the cancellation date (this must be before your eligibility end date)

You must not cancel the agreement before 12:01am on the Tuesday of the final week of care. This will enable the setting to claim for any hours provided that week.

You can release the hours in an existing agreement so that you can use them in a new agreement, you must cancel the existing agreement no later than 11:59pm on the Monday following the final week of care provided under that agreement.

If you have made a mistake or need to amend to an earlier date, follow the same process.

You cannot amend the agreement to a later date. In this situation you must create a new agreement for the extra dates.

I want to amend the active agreement I have in place with my setting(s)

If you wish to amend the maximum number of hours set in your agreement(s), you must discuss this with the setting to agree your new requirements. The setting will then amend the online agreement accordingly. If you initially created a combined term time and school holiday time agreement with a childcare setting, you can ask for either or both of these to be amended. Once the setting has submitted the amendment then you will need to approve or reject the changes via your dashboard by close of play on the Thursday of the week you wish the amendments to relate to. Until the new hours are approved by you the existing agreement for funded hours will remain in place. The approved change will be made with immediate effect.

If you wish to amend the agreement to remove or add term time or holiday time, then you will need to cancel the existing agreement to create a new agreement for school holiday time or term time.

I want to move childcare settings

If you wish to move childcare settings, please have a conversation with the childcare setting and then cancel or end the agreement for the current setting via your dashboard and input the end date.

You will then need to create the online agreement for the new setting by 12pm of the Monday of the first week at the new setting. Even if you do not intend to start childcare until mid-week, the agreement needs to be created by the Monday. The new setting will also need to confirm the agreement online by the Thursday of that week in order for funding to be claimed.

My child has additional support needs

Once you have been approved for the Childcare Offer setting please contact the national helpline to find out what support can be put in place to allow your child to receive childcare under the Offer.

Keeping track of my funded weeks

You will be able to view via your dashboard the amount of hours the childcare setting is claiming for your child each week. These should match the agreed booked hours between you and the childcare setting.

How many funded holiday weeks do I have left

You are able to view how many holiday weeks have been claimed by your childcare setting on your dashboard.

As the childcare setting claims the holiday weeks funding, the balance of remaining holiday weeks will reduce. This allows you to keep track of how many holiday weeks are remaining for you.

If your setting is yet to submit a claim for a previous holiday week, this figure may not be accurate.

You will be able to see whether there are any holiday week claims outstanding by looking at the claims made on your dashboard. You also receive email notifications when a claim is  made for funded childcare for your child. You can monitor if a setting is yet to submit a holiday week claim that could potentially affect the total holiday weeks remaining figure.

Non funded weeks

There are 4 weeks in the year that are not funded by the Offer. And these can only be taken during school holidays. If you have a term time only agreement with your setting it is likely you will not have to fund any weeks yourself, however if you have a holiday hours agreement with your setting, 4 weeks of these will need to be funded by you. You will be able to keep track of these weeks claims the setting submits weekly. The provider will claim 0 for these weeks which will mean that these are the weeks you will be require to fully fund.

Agreement reference - keep safe

Once you have successfully submitted your online agreement request to your childcare setting, the setting will need to either accept or reject this request for funding. You will be issued with a unique reference number for example G8044034. Please keep this safe.