Tag Archive for: nursery news

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit (Rough Guide)

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit (Rough Guide)

In today’s post, the third in our series of guides about Government childcare funding schemes, we look at free childcare funding available through Universal Credit. This is particularly timely because the scheme becomes significantly more generous from the 28th of June 2023, so eligible families will start benefitting just as today’s guide goes live. The changes come into effect following commitments made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Spring Budget back in March. They make childcare funding through Universal Credit more generous and easier to fund. We will explain what we mean by that, as well as outline the facts, figures and eligibility requirements for the scheme, in our guide to Free Childcare Through Universal Credit below.

How Much Free Childcare Can You Get Through Universal Credit?

If you are eligible for free childcare through Universal Credit, here’s what you can claim from 28th June 2023:

  • The maximum families can claim through Universal Credit Childcare Support is 85% of eligible childcare costs, up to the maximums outlined below.
  • You can get up to £951 in free childcare each month for one child.
  • You can receive up to £1,630 in free childcare each month for two or more children.
  • That’s an increase of almost 50% from the previous maximums before late June 2023.
  • The maximums outlined above will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) annually until 2027/28 according to the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).
  • You may also be able to claim for childcare costs during your child’s nursery settling-in period or for childcare while you travel to work if they’re deemed by DWP to be ‘reasonable’ in helping you to get back into work.
  • Another major improvement is that the funding through this scheme may be partly pre-funded by the Government in some circumstances, rather than families having to find the significant sums, and then claim them back retrospectively. We’ll explain more about that later in this guide.

N.B. If you already have some of your childcare fees paid by your employer through childcare vouchers, you can only claim the balance of childcare fees that you are responsible for funding — not the part already covered by the vouchers. Similarly, if you already have some of your childcare fees covered through free childcare hours for 2-year-olds or free childcare hours for 3- and 4-year-olds, you can only claim for any additional hours, if eligible, that you would otherwise have to pay.

Why is the Government Helping in This Way?

“These changes will help thousands of parents progress their career without compromising the quality of the care that their children receive.” — Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions.

The free childcare funding through Universal Credit is aimed at helping low-income families and those wishing to either return to work or significantly extend existing working hours. This will help children, parents/caregivers — especially women — and will also boost the economy as more people move back into work. The Government is also aware that there are huge benefits associated with a good early years education, particularly when it’s started young. Those benefits extend to a huge range of things including the children’s life outcomes, improved careers, increased earning potential and multiple benefits to society in general. Follow the bold link for more details.

“By helping more parents to re-enter and progress in work, we will be able to cut inactivity and help grow the economy.” — Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions.

Are You Eligible for Free Childcare through Universal Credit?

As mentioned above, the changes to childcare support through Universal Credit are designed specifically to help low-income families, those wishing to return to work, or people wishing to extend existing hours. With that in mind, the eligibility requirements for childcare funding through Universal Credit are as follows:

  • Firstly families must, of course, be claiming Universal Credit in order to access the childcare element of it. You can learn more about who is eligible for Universal Credit here. Generally speaking, though, Universal Credit is mostly intended for UK people aged over 18 but below State Pension age who are on low incomes, need help with living costs, and have savings/investments of no more than £16k. Your partner’s circumstances, if you live with them, may affect your eligibility for Universal Credit. There are other exceptions and caveats, too, so follow the bold link above for more information about eligibility for Universal Credit itself.
  • With regard to support for childcare funding available through Universal Credit, you and your partner, if you have one, need to be working in a paid job — or have received and accepted a job offer for paid work starting within the next month. That’s with the exception of those unable to work through disability, bad health, or temporary absence from the household e.g. through hospitalisation or going into residential care. Your child may also still be eligible if your partner has to care for a severely disabled person for whom they are eligible to receive Carer’s Allowance.
  • You must live in the UK and the child(ren) for whom you are claiming childcare costs needs to be dependent upon you.
  • You usually need to be over 18, although there are some circumstances where those aged 16 or 17 may be able to claim.
  • You can claim against childcare costs for dependent child(ren) until the August following their 16th birthday.
  • The childcare provider may be a nursery, preschool, childminder, nanny, or even a breakfast, after-school or holiday club — so long as they’re properly registered in the UK. Generally, that means that they need to be registered with Ofsted if the childcare is in England, or their equivalent if it’s in Scotland or Wales. You’ll need to provide their registration number when applying for the childcare funding.
  • If your circumstances change, it could affect your eligibility — potentially for both Universal Credit itself and the Childcare Support element of it. So, confirm straight away if, for example, you, or your partner if you have one, earn more than originally stated, lose your job, or stop work for some other reason.

Can You Get Childcare Costs Paid Upfront?

There are some circumstances where you can get childcare costs paid upfront through the scheme.Usually, you will need to pay for childcare costs first and then reclaim them through your Universal Credit childcare support account. However, there are some circumstances where you may be able to get some of your childcare costs paid upfront through the scheme. This recent change is designed to help families essentially with cash flow so that a major barrier to working is removed. That, in turn, will also help the economy.

Funding for childcare upfront may be possible in the following circumstances:

  • When parents are starting new paid work.
  • In the month preceding the start of the new job.
  • In the month after the end of employment, to help continue childcare when switching between jobs.
  • When parents are significantly increasing their working hours, for example when moving from part-time to full-time employment.

If any of the above scenarios apply, families can speak to their work coach (available through their Universal Credit account) about something called a Flexible Support Fund. If not eligible for that, another potential option is a Budgeting Advance although the latter needs to be repaid.

N.B. Be mindful of keeping the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) informed in a timely manner in all cases, otherwise you could miss out.

How to Apply for Universal Credit Childcare Support

To apply for Universal Credit payments, create a Universal Credit account here or sign into your account here if you already have one. If you live with a partner, they will also need to have an account and the two must be linked together before you will be able to claim.

N.B. Before applying for the first time, ensure you first read about checks and other useful information you should be aware of here. The telephone number for the Universal Credit Helpline at 0800 328 5644 may also be useful to note.

Once accepted into the scheme, you will need to regularly report and provide evidence of your childcare costs through your account. Remember to claim quickly too otherwise, if you leave claims longer than 2 months, they may not be reimbursed.

More Information

Additional guidance on childcare costs through Universal Credit is available here.

Already Claiming for Childcare Costs through Another Scheme?

You can’t claim through the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme if you are claiming for childcare through Universal Credit. However, you can check which other schemes you may be able to claim in tandem here.

More Improvements to Childcare Funding are Coming Soon

Substantial additional improvements to childcare funding are also in the pipeline following the Spring Budget 2023 announcements. However, we’ll cover those alternative schemes separately here in due course. Just to whet your appetite, though, they include plans to gradually extend free childcare support to eligible children aged from just 9 months from September 2024. So, watch this space!

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. At Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, we support all the Government childcare funding schemes for eligible families. We offer babies, infants, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life, the highest quality childcare and an unbeatable early years education. This combination will bring out the best in them and ensure they absolutely thrive from the moment they begin school around the age of five. To get started on applying for a nursery/preschool place, to arrange a free guided tour or simply to get in touch to ask a question, please select a button below:

Little Acorns Nursery and Preschool is located in Padiham, Lancashire. We’re also close to Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham, and Wood End, so may also suit families requiring childcare near those locations.

Get Ready for Pyjamarama 2023

Get ready for Pyjamarama 2023. This year it arrives on Friday 16th of June in nurseries, preschools, schools and homes all around the Nation. That date is not carved in stone, though, as some settings may find an alternative date more convenient for their particular circumstances.

What is Pyjamarama?

Pyjamarama is a one-day fundraising event that's organised through the children's reading charity BookTrust.Pyjamarama is a one-day fundraising event that’s organised through the children’s reading charity BookTrust. It takes place each year across a variety of UK settings including homes, schools, preschools, nurseries and more. As well as being great fun for those organising and taking part, the initiative is beneficial to millions of disadvantaged children. The ultimate aim is to raise money to fund the purchase of books and resources, so that every child in the UK gets the chance for bedtime stories and each family has proper reading opportunities. The initiative is hugely popular, great fun, and transforms lives. Today, we take a look at what to expect, how to get involved, and the many benefits of Pyjamarama.

“Spend a day in your pyjamas to raise money for BookTrust and be part of something amazing.”

How Does Pyjamarama Work?

Settings like Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham first register with the Pyjamarama fundraising scheme, well ahead of the 16th June event date. In return, they receive a free downloadable fundraising pack. This contains information and activity resources that they’ll be able to use with the nursery children on Pyjamarama day as well as things like posters to publicise the event. Access to BookTrust’s Pyjamarama Hub will also be given. This allows access to additional resources and activity ideas for children to take part in.

On the day itself, the idea is for children and staff to come to the nursery/preschool dressed in pyjamas to add an extra element of fun. Having said that, PJs are not obligatory — children can wear something else if they prefer, for example colourful T-shirts. Either way, we ask that each child brings £1 with them. This will be donated to the BookTrust charity to raise money for disadvantaged children, who might otherwise not have access to bedtime stories. The ensuing day will be relaxed and fun, with time spent together reading and sharing stories, watching specially-recorded videos from children’s favourite authors (that’s new for 2023) and taking part in a whole host of other fun, reading- and story-related activities.

At the end of the day, children who took part in Pyjamarama will receive certificates to take home. All money raised by the children and setting will subsequently be sent off to the fundraising team at BookTrust.

Pyjamarama is Fun, Educational & Worthwhile

Pyjamarama raises funds to give disadvantaged children and their families opportunities for reading and bedtime stories.Pyjamarama is always a fun day for both adults and children. The added aspect of pyjamas makes it special, quirky and relaxed. And, at the end of the day, it’s incredibly worthwhile. Not only does it raise money to give disadvantaged children and their families opportunities for reading and bedtime stories, but it also encourages those children taking part in Pyjamarama to read more, for pleasure as much as anything. Additionally, it gives children a different perspective and encourages altruism and empathy for others less fortunate than themselves.

“Raise vital funds to help every child get a bedtime story.”

How Pyjamarama Helps Disadvantaged Children

Every £1 helps. So, children and parents — please get involved. Here’s how fundraising can typically help:

  • £25 is enough to provide 15 under-fives from deprived communities with books and reading resources.
  • £50 is enough to provide an entire class of primary school children with a selection of books to share and read at home.
  • £100 would allow the BookTrust charity to help teenagers in a struggling secondary school reconnect with reading.

How Can You Get Involved?

“Through Pyjamarama we want to help support the children who are at risk of missing out on the joy and confidence that bedtime stories provide.”

If you haven’t already seen them, look out for posters and a letter to parents highlighting the date for Pyjamarama at your child’s setting this year. On the day, please ensure your child goes to nursery/preschool or school with £1 and is ideally dressed in PJs although, as we said before, it’s not obligatory — but is a lot of fun when everyone joins in.

More details and a FAQ about getting involved in Pyjamarama as a setting or individual can be found here.

“Naomi has seen how reading takes her into imaginary worlds and helps her deal with everyday worries and is amazed how it is also helping her to do well in all subjects at school.”

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham

High-Quality Weekday Childcare in Padiham, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Babies and under-fives get the very best start at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham. As well as offering a convenient childcare service in a loving and homely environment, children also receive a comprehensive early years education at Little Acorns. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes including free childcare hours for eligible 2-year-olds and free childcare hours for eligible 3 and 4-year-olds. Contact us if you’d like to register your child for a childcare place. Or, if you’re not yet sure, why not arrange a guided tour? We can show you and your little one around to see how well they fit in. We’re also here to answer any questions. Please choose a button to get started:

Little Acorns is a nursery and preschool in Padiham, (BB12), also being conveniently close by for those in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham, and Wood End.

BookTrust is a Registered Charity, number 313343.

Little Acorns Nursery Receives a Message from King Charles III

Little Acorns Nursery Receives a Message from King Charles III

Following the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September, children at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham, began to create their own pictures showcasing their interpretation of her as their monarch. The result was a beautiful collection of images that were at times quirky and always charming, creative and unique. Many were also rather touching, given the subject matter and circumstances. So much so, in fact, that once complete, staff at Little Acorns decided to send them, on behalf of the children, to the Royal Family. So, off they went, packaged up with a covering note passing on sincere condolences to the Royal Family from both staff and children at the nursery.

A Message from the King

To our surprise and delight, we received correspondence featuring a postmark from Buckingham Palace and a Royal crest!Then, in early February, to our surprise and absolute delight, we received correspondence notably featuring a postmark from Buckingham Palace and a Royal crest. It was addressed to the children and staff at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham. Inside was a beautiful and heartfelt reply card and message, sent by none other than King Charles himself!

As with the envelope, the front of the card featured King Charles’s Royal Cypher. That is a type of crest with the King’s initial ‘C’ intertwined with the letter ‘R’ (short for ‘Rex’, which is Latin for ‘King’) and ‘III’ because, of course, he is King Charles III. The cypher also integrates the symbol of the King’s Royal Crown.

Inside, there is a wonderful vintage-style photograph of King Charles as a young boy with his mother, then the young Queen. Both can be seen smiling happily and it’s a very poignant photograph given the circumstances. Facing that was an incredibly touching message, signed at the bottom by King Charles himself:

“It was so very kind of you to send me such a wonderfully generous message following the death of my beloved mother. Your most thoughtful words are enormously comforting, and I cannot tell you how deeply they are appreciated at this time of immense sorrow.” (Signed: Charles R)

The main image above shows the details described.

Staff posted on social media: “Receiving the card and sharing it with the children was a very special time for us” and comments received on the post included, “This is just so lovely and such a touching letter from the King. Something to treasure” and “…have you seen this? I cried when I read it this morning.” So, it has been very touching indeed.

It’s not every day that one receives a message from a monarch, so this wonderful surprise and message really made February incredibly special for our children and staff. A huge ‘well done’ to all the children who created such lovely images and to the staff of Little Acorns Nursery for taking the extra step of sending them to the His Royal Highness the King and the Royal Family. It’s also good to think that the children’s adorable images may have been of some solace to the King in his time of sorrow.

About That Children’s Book

“Where's Mrs Queen?”, book by Ingela P Arrhenius.The eagle-eyed will notice that the little photo above also shows one of the nursery children’s most popular books, “Where’s Mrs Queen?” by Ingela P Arrhenius. Part of a series, this ‘early years’ book features charming illustrations and interactive felt flaps inside. The children can use these to reveal London-themed characters like a policeman, a bus driver, a soldier and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself (and a corgi dog, of course). The final page even integrates a surprise mirror, so the children can reveal their own faces — much to their delight and amusement! It’s a simple but fun, interactive and, importantly, sensory book for the little ones to discover and explore.

Nursery & Pre-School Places at Little Acorns, Padiham, in Lancashire

Are you looking for high quality childcare in/near Padiham, Lancashire?

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Little Acorns is a nursery and pre-school offering the highest quality childcare in Padiham, Lancashire. We may also suit families who either live or work nearby, for example in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham or Wood End. We support Government-funded childcare places for families who are eligible for the relevant funding schemes, which will help to make childcare more affordable to many. Are you potentially interested in a childcare place for your baby, toddler or child under five at Little Acorns Nursery? If so, please register them for a place, get in touch to ask any questions, or request a guided tour of the nursery with your child. We’ll be happy to help. Please select an appropriate button below: