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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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On this page you will find the most commonly asked questions about childcare and family information. 

If you can't find the answer to your question in the FAQs or by using 'Search' contact the Family Information Service and we'll respond within 5 working days.

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How do I apply for 2 year old free childcare?

To apply for a 2 year old place for your child:

You will have to complete an online application form.

Your child cannot start until the term AFTER thier 2nd birthday.

You must be receiving a qualifying benefit - normally Universal Credit.

You must have Recourse to Public Funds.

If you do not get a code at the end of the application process, you will need to provide an electronic copy of your qualifying benefit.

Your nursery can help you with your application.

Find out more about free childcare for 2 year olds


Can I get free childcare if I'm not a UK citizen and can't claim benefits?

If you’re a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits 

If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’, you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old. You must live in England and your household income must be no more than: 

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child 
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child 
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children 
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children 

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. 

Application form   for families with no recourse to public funds

Email application form to 

What do I do if I don't get a code at the end of my 2 year old application?

If you complete an online application and don't get a code at the end of the process

email a photo of your most recent benefits statement as proof that you qualify for a free 2 year old childcare place.

Email or

If you do not receive benefits or have recourse to public funds, you will not qualify for a free childcare place for 2 year olds and will not receive a code at the end of the application process.

How do I apply for 3 and 4 year old free childcare?

All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to a maximum of 570 hours of free childcare a year (15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year).

Your child can start the term AFTER their 3rd birthday.

You can use an Ofsted registered childcare setting - Day Nursery, Childminder, Pre-School Playgroup, School Nursery.

You do not need to complete an online application form.

You will need to complete a registration form with the setting.

If you are already using childcare and you want to keep your child at the setting you MUST let then know you want to use your 15 hours with them.

Your child must be in the childcare setting on the day they take the register for the term.

You cannot start after that date - if you miss the start date you will have to wait until the following term.

You cannot transfer to another setting after this date.

Find out more about 15 hours free childcare

How do I apply for 30 hours?

Working parents with 3 and 4 year old children may be entitled to an extra 15 hours a week of flexible free childcare giving them 30 hours childcare a week for at least 38 weeks a year (1140 hours a year).

Both parents must be working in a 2 parent family. You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance.

Your child can start the term AFTER their 3rd birthday.

The application is done online.

To apply for 30 hours you must create or sign in to a Government Gateway Account.

You will then be asked questions about you and your partner, including your National Insurance Number and income.

At the end of the process you will have set up your Childcare Account.

If you are eligible to receive the 30 hours, you will be given an 11-digit 'eligibility code'. You can see this in your 'secure messages' section of your Childcare Account.

The Family Information Service is not able to help you with lost codes or problems with the online application process.

You will have to contact the helpline number for any queries:

HMRC helpline on 0300 123 4097

Find out more about 30 hours


How do I find out about an EHC Plan?

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s aged up to 25 special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.

An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

At all times parents (and young people if aged between 16 and 25) have the statutory right to request an assessment.

Contact the SEN Team:

Call 0121 569 8240



Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) for Sandwell families can help you with your assessment.


Call 0121 828 1172



Sandwell Local Offer

Find out more information on EHC plans and Special Educational Needs and Disability Services 


I have concerns about my childcare provider?

Finding good quality childcare can be a difficult task for parents. There are lots of things to look out for and to remember to ask when you visit a childcare setting.

Top Tips for Choosing Childcare

If you are not happy wth your childcare:

Talk to the setting or childminder. You may be able to sort things out quickly.

Disputes about fees and childcare costs can only be resolved with the setting.

Ofsted can deal with complaints about how the setting delivers childcare.

Contact Ofsted about concerns 0300 123 4666

Early Years can deal with complaints about funded places for 2,3 and 4 year olds.

Contact Sandwell Early Years


telephone: 0121 569 4960

Safeguarding issues must be reported to Sandwell Children's Safeguarding Partnership.

Report a Safeguarding concern

Can I get help to pay for my childcare?

You can get help with paying for childcare if it's provided by an Ofsted registered provider.

To find out what options are available to you the best place to start is Childcare Choices

You may qualify for 15 hours free childcare for eligible 2 year olds.

All 3 and 4 year olds get 15 hours free childcare the term after their 3rd birthday.

Working parents may qualify for 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

You may be eligible for Tax Free Childcare where for every £8 you pay into an online account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year. If you are not eligible for Tax Free Childcare you may qualify for Universal Credit.

The Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs while you study.

You must be aged under 20 at the start of your course.

Find out more about paying for childcare

I'm a foster carer, can I get free childcare?

You can apply for free childcare for 2 year olds if you are fostering a child in Sandwell or you want your foster child to attend a nursery in Sandwell.

You will need to make an online application.

At the end of the application, you will not be given a code.

This does not mean you can't have free childcare.

Please ask the child's social worker to confirm that the child is a looked after child and email confirmation to

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to free childcare (15 hours).

3 and 4 year old children in foster care will be eligible for 30 hours of childcare if their foster carers meet the eligibility criteria and it is consistent with the child’s care plan. You must speak to your supervising social worker to see if you meet the criteria before completing an application form.

What do I do if I'm worried about a child's safety?

If you are worried a child may be suffering significant harm, or if you are concerned a child has suffered harm, neglect or abuse, please follow the advice below:

  • If you believe a child or young person is at immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police by dialling 999.

If you have concerns about a child or young person but believe they are not at immediate risk you can:

  • Discuss your concerns with a professional you trust such as a health visitor, teacher or GP
  • Contact the Sandwell Safeguarding Team on 0121 569 3100
  • Contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 (free service, lines open 24 hours a day). They will listen to your concerns, offer advice and support and can take action on your behalf if a child is in danger. You can also report concerns anonymously. For further information or to report your concerns online visit:

If you have a concern about a member of staff working with children (in either a paid or voluntary capacity) please contact the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) at

How do I apply for a school place?

You must complete an online application form to apply for a school place in Sandwell.

The dates for applying for a school place are published on Sandwell Council's website.

To appeal for a Sandwell school you must also complete an online form.

Appeal against a school place decision

Frequently Asked Questions about school applications

Contact School Admissions

Parent Support Line on 0121 569 6765

Please call during these hours:

Monday    9.00 – 13.00
Tuesday    13.00 – 17.00
Wednesday    9.00 – 13.00
Thursday    13.00 – 17.00
Friday    9.00 – 13.00