This guide provides information to all those involved in the delivery of the Care to Learn scheme in the 2016 to 2017 academic year.
This guide provides information to all those involved in delivering the Care to Learn scheme in the 2016 to 2017 academic year. It provides general information about the eligibility criteria for the scheme which has been set by Education Funding Agency (EFA).
This guide does not attempt to offer definitive advice for every situation; stakeholders who require further or more detailed help and advice should contact the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk who administer the scheme on behalf of EFA. The further information section provides useful telephone numbers; email and website addresses.
A summary of Care to Learn in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
Care to Learn is intended to help young parents, defined as those under the age of 20, to continue in and return to, education after the birth of a child. It provides funding for childcare whilst the young parent is engaged in a study programme and is not able to provide care for their child. Care to Learn can also help with the cost of associated travel. The scheme can provide up to a maximum total amount of £160 per child per week or up to a maximum of £175 per child per week in London.
The young parent’s study programme must have some public funding. Care to Learn will only fund childcare provision that is registered with Ofsted.
To receive Care to Learn, young parents, their education institution and their childcare provider must all meet the eligibility criteria set out below.
Young parents must complete and submit a new application for each academic year they want to claim Care to Learn funding, even if their study programme runs for more than one year.
Young parents are encouraged to apply for Care to Learn before the start of their study programme or as soon as possible after they start. It is important that young parents are aware that payments can only be backdated to the start of their study programme if their application is received within 28 days of the start date. Payments for any applications received outside of this timeframe will begin from the Monday of the week in which the application was received.
Young parents can apply before their baby is born, but their application cannot be fully assessed until all the child’s details have been provided.
Stakeholders are encouraged to tell young parents about the availability of financial support for childcare through Care to Learn to help them make more informed decisions about their options.
Care to Learn eligibility criteria
In order to receive support from Care to Learn, the young parent, their education institution and childcare provider must all meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme as set out below.
The young parent must be under 20 years old on the date they start their study programme. Young parents who become 20 during their study programme will continue to be funded to the end of that specific study programme, ie to the end of the same programme at the same level.
Main carer for the child(ren)
The young parent must be the main carer and be in receipt of Child Benefit for the child(ren) for whom they are claiming Care to Learn. If a young parent loses custody of their child(ren), even temporarily, the SBSS must be told immediately. Care to Learn may be claimed by the mother or father of the child as long as:
- the other parent is unable to provide childcare, eg they are also in education or are absent
- the other parent is not claiming childcare paid through Tax Credits
Living and studying in England
Only young parents who are both living and studying in England are eligible for Care to Learn.
A London weighting applies to the scheme. The London weighted maximum is £175 per child per week (compared with a maximum of £160 outside London). Eligibility for London weighting is determined by the young parent’s home address and applies to the following Boroughs:
- Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney & City of London, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond-upon-Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster
To be eligible for Care to Learn, a young parent must meet the following residency criteria:
- be a British citizen or a national of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or the child of a Swiss national or Turkish migrant worker
Where a young parent indicates that they are a migrant from a country that is outside the EEA, they will only be eligible for Care to Learn if one of the following immigration conditions applies:
- they are an asylum seeker aged under 18
- they are an asylum seeker aged 18 or over only and a care leaver aged 18 or 19 they must send an original letter from their local authority that shows their address and confirms they are a care leaver with their application
- they have refugee status
- they have humanitarian protection
- they have discretionary leave to remain
- they have indefinite leave to remain
- they have indefinite leave to enter
- they have limited leave to remain
- they have limited leave to enter
- they have leave outside the rules
Young parents are not required to submit evidence of their residency status with their application. However, where they confirm they are a migrant from outside the EEA, EFA may request evidence and/or may carry out checks with the Home Office to confirm their immigration status. Supporting evidence may be requested from the young parent if any issues are identified.
Educational institution and the study programme
The young parent’s study programme must have some public funding. There are no specific requirements for the length, duration or level of the study programme but it must clearly be a defined programme of study.
The following gives examples of study programmes which are eligible for Care to Learn but is not an exhaustive list:
- school and college study programmes including GCSEs, A levels, BTECs
- non accredited day sessions and short programmes within the community such as first aid, healthy eating, parenting etc as part of a defined programme of education
- traineeships for young people not currently in a job who have little work experience but whom providers and employers believe have a reasonable chance of being ready for employment or an apprenticeship within 6 months
- further education (FE) study programmes in a higher education (HE) institution including access courses and diplomas
- foundation HE courses where they are followed at an FE institution, eg BTEC diploma
The following are not eligible for Care to Learn:
- privately funded education, for example, at an independent school or other institution where students are required to pay tuition fees
- voluntary work that is not a required part of an agreed study programme
- apprenticeships, because apprentices are paid by their employer
- HE courses in an HE institution or FE institution, including courses leading to a first degree, HND, HNC, diploma in HE, foundation degree or initial teacher training
- social activities/groups where no programme of study takes place
In any instances where a young parent is still looking after their child, for example, while they are undertaking a study programme with a childcare provider, this is outside the scope of Care to Learn funding.
Young parents can apply before the date of their study programme has been finalised; however the application cannot be fully assessed until the study programme details are confirmed.
Study time and work experience placements
Young parents can claim Care to Learn for independent study time which is required as part of their study programme, eg to complete coursework, undertake revision or homework. The amount of independent study time which is required must be agreed between the young parent and their education institution.
Care to Learn will support time needed to undertake work experience placements, but only where these have been clearly identified as an integral part of the study programme. The costs associated with independent study time and work experience placements will form part of the Care to Learn weekly maximum amount (£160 per child per week and £175 per child per week in London).
Childcare provision must be registered with Ofsted for it to be eligible for Care to Learn funding. It must be registered in one of the following ways:
- on the early years register with either Ofsted or a childminder agency
- on the compulsory and/or voluntary part of the general childcare register with either Ofsted or a childminder agency
- offered by schools (who are exempt from Ofsted registration for children aged 2+) ie school-run breakfast and after school clubs, and holiday care
Support for specialist provision on the Care Quality Commission’s register may also be granted on a case by case basis if general childcare provision is not suitable for the child. The childcare provider must provide evidence of being registered with Ofsted, or, in the case of a school providing childcare, their unique reference number (URN). From 1 September 2014 childminder agencies have been able to register with Ofsted on behalf of the childminders they represent; childminder agencies will be required to provide evidence of their Ofsted registration.
Where a childcare provider is related to the child, the childcare provider must, in addition to being registered with Ofsted:
- live apart from the child and be providing registered childcare services for other children to whom they are not related
Other sources of childcare support and Care to Learn
Local authorities have a duty to secure 570 hours a year of government funded early education over no fewer than 38 weeks of the year for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds. Children become eligible for a government funded early education place from 1 September, 1 January or 1 April following their second or third birthday.
A 2 year old child is eligible for an early education place if their parent(s) claims any one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Child or Working Tax Credits and have an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190
- Working Tax Credit Run-on – paid for 4 weeks after the claimant stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
A 2 year old child is also eligible if they:
- are looked after by the local authority
- have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan (EHCP)
- receive a Disability Living Allowance
- have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangements order
Two year old children who meet the eligibility criteria can continue to receive a funded place once they have taken it up, even if their circumstances change at a later date. To find out more about the entitlement to early learning for 2 year olds and to see if their child is eligible for a place, parents should visit freechildcare on GOV.UK.
EFA expects young parents to access this entitlement before applying for funding from Care to Learn. Young parents may apply for Care to Learn for support to cover any extra hours (over and above their funded early education entitlement) to complete their study programme. This point is explicitly referenced in the declaration on the application.
Local authorities will be able to provide further information about government funded early education in their area.
Childcare Tax Credits are also available for parents (lone or couples) who meet the eligibility criteria to provide help with childcare costs. Any childcare hours being requested for Care to Learn payments must not already be being funded from Child Tax Credits. Again, this point is explicitly referenced in the declaration on the application.
The Care to Learn application process
In the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the application process for Care to Learn will continue to be an online process. Guidance is available throughout the online process to help young parents complete their application.
New Care to Learn applicants need to apply online and follow the instructions to complete the application. Applications for the 2016 to 2017 academic year will be available from May.
Young parents who applied for Care to Learn in the 2015 to 2016 academic year should use the same log in details (username and password) for the 2016 to 2017 academic year. If the young parent has forgotten their username or password, they should choose the appropriate option on the SBSS portal log in screen.
To apply, the young parent will need to know:
- their childcare provider details including contact name, email address and Ofsted registration number (available from the childcare provider or found at ofsted reports)
- details for their chosen education institution including contact name, email address and phone number
- details of any additional travel costs they may wish to claim
- name, address, email address and contact details of their support worker (if they have one)
If a young parent does not have all the information to hand to complete the online application in full, it can be saved at any time. When they have the required information, they can log back in to the portal and resume their online application.
Once the online application has been completed in full, young parents will need to ensure that they have read and agree to the privacy notice and declaration before they submit it.
On submission, young parents will receive an email to confirm their application has been received.
After the young parent has applied, they must give their education institution either:
- a copy of the child’s birth certificate or
- a letter confirming receipt of Child Benefit for that child
Institutions are asked to remind any young parents who they know are applying for Care to Learn Support to ensure they provide the required documents. No payments will be made to the young parent’s childcare provider until this documentation has been provided to the institution.
The SBSS will make contact with the young parent’s chosen childcare provider and education institution and ask them to provide further details via the SBSS portal to confirm the course or study programme details and the childcare requirements.
Childcare providers and education institutions already registered on the SBSS portal should continue to log in using the same details (username and password) as they did in the previous academic year. The SBSS will ensure that any providers or institutions who have not previously accessed the portal are provided with log-in credentials.
The young parent’s application cannot be processed until all parties have completed their part of the application process.
It is important that all parties: young parent, education institution and childcare provider are fully aware of the content of the relevant declarations before submitting their part of the application.
Care to Learn applications must not be submitted by one of the other parties involved in the application process without the young parent’s knowledge.
It would be appreciated if institutions and providers could help young parents who are experiencing difficulties with completing the online application process. Institutions and providers are reminded that the young parent’s log in details are private and should not be used by them on the young parent’s behalf.
Alternatively, young parents can use the online webchat function or they can call the SBSS student helpline on 0800 121 8989 for help and advice. Calls to the student helpline are free from a landline; calls from a mobile will be charged but young parents can request a call back to minimise the cost.
Support workers, childcare providers and education institutions are encouraged to use the online webchat function or contact the SBSS provider helpline on 0300 303 8610 at any point during the completion of the online application if they are unsure about what information or evidence is required.
Assessing the application
The SBSS will carry out an assessment of the young parent’s application to determine their eligibility for Care to Learn. These checks will ensure the childcare provider, education institution and study programme are eligible for the scheme, and that the childcare hours claimed are reasonable in comparison with the hours entered for the study programme.
The SBSS will not make Care to Learn payments until all information from the young parent, education institution and childcare provider has been received and approved and a payment plan has been issued. It is particularly important that childcare providers are fully aware of this.
The following information must be supplied before any Care to Learn payments can be made:
From the childcare provider or childminder agency:
- business name, address, email address and contact details
- childcare dates and fees
- Ofsted registration number
- bank or building society account details
From the education institution:
- their UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN)
- institution name, address, email address and contact details
- a unique student reference for the young parent who is applying, as follows:
- students Unique Pupil Number (UPN) for those institutions submitting school census returns
- students Learner Reference Number (LRN) for those institutions submitting individualised learner record (ILR) data returns
- study programme name, level and length, this must be the full study programme length, for eg
- if the student is studying a 2 year NVQ programme starting on 1 September 2016 and ending on 17 July 2018 these dates should be entered
- if the student started a 2 year NVQ programme (at the same level) on 2 September 2015 which ends on 17 July 2017 these dates should be entered
- if the student studied at Level 1 last year and is progressing to Level 2 this year, even if this is in the same subject, this is considered to be a new study programme and the dates for the new study programme only should be entered
- number of hours in the study programme each week
- breaks in learning eg half term, Christmas, Easter
- confirmation of any travel costs the young parent wishes to claim
- bank or building society account details (to pay travel costs and the administration payment by BACs)
- confirmation that the existence of the child(ren) to be cared for has been verified
Once the application has been processed and approved, the SBSS will send an email confirming Care to Learn eligibility to the young parent, childcare provider and education institution. The SBSS will issue a payment plan which confirms the amount that will be paid each week for childcare and the dates between which childcare costs will be paid.
Where the young parent intends to use more than one childcare provider, a payment plan will be issued to each childcare provider. The combined amounts on each plan will not exceed the Care to Learn weekly maximum amount (up to £160 per child per week or up to £175 per child per week in London). All payment plans and correspondence can be viewed on the SBSS portal accounts.
The SBSS will also confirm that eligibility for Care to Learn covers the whole or remainder of the academic year, enabling the young parent to complete one study programme and embark on a new one within the same academic year without being required to submit a new application (as long as the eligibility criteria continue to be met). However, any changes must be notified to the SBSS via a change of circumstances process available on the portal as any changes may impact on the dates and costs set out in the payment plan.
The SBSS will also confirm the amount to be paid for additional travel costs, if applicable. If the young parent is not eligible for Care to Learn, the SBSS will send a refusal email to explain this. A copy will also be sent to their support worker if their details have been provided on the application.
Late applications and backdated claims
If the SBSS receives the application within 28 days of the start of the study programme, payments will be backdated to the start of the study programme. If the application is received after the 28 day period, payments will begin only from the Monday of the week the application was received by the SBSS.
The administration of Care to Learn
If the young parent is assessed as eligible for Care to Learn, payments for childcare will be made directly to the childcare provider or childminder agency by the SBSS. Payments for the young parent’s travel costs will be made directly to the education institution by the SBSS.
All payments will be made securely by the Banks Automated Clearing System (BACS).
Care to Learn will pay towards the cost of childcare up to a maximum of £160 per child per week (up to a maximum of £175 per child per week if the young parent’s home address attracts London weighting). The funds will be paid directly to the childcare provider or childminder agency each month in advance. Childcare providers must note that no Care to Learn payments can be made until all the information required from the young parent, education institution and childcare provider has been received by the SBSS.
Care to Learn will support childcare hours in reasonable excess of the study programme hours to allow time for travel between the education institution and the childcare provider, and for any independent study time undertaken, within the maximum weekly amount.
Summer retainers can be paid to childcare providers for the time between the end of one study programme period and the beginning of another. A summer retainer to keep the childcare place open over the summer holiday period must be applied for separately before the end of the summer.
Any summer retainer forms for 2016 which are received by the SBSS after 1 September 2016 will not be paid.
Deposits of up to £250 per child can be paid to the childcare provider if required. The amount of deposit will be deducted from the first month’s childcare payment. In the unlikely event that the first month’s childcare payment is insufficient to support the deduction of the full deposit, the balance will be deducted from the second month’s childcare payment. The childcare provider cannot have the deposit offset against the final weeks of the payment plan.
Registration fees charged by the childminder or childminder agency, up to a maximum of £80 per child, will be funded through the scheme. Such fees are not deducted from future childcare payments.
Young parents may claim for travel costs that are necessary to take their child(ren) between childcare and home where those costs are in addition to their normal travel costs from home to their institution. The young parent should use the cheapest means of transport available, this is normally public transport. If the cheapest means is by car, the amount payable will be calculated using a rate of 23p per mile. Travel costs will not be paid where the childcare takes place on the same site as the education. The total of the childcare and travel costs must not exceed the weekly maximum amount of £160 per child per week (or up to £175 per child per week in London).
If the amount of travel being requested seems excessive, the SBSS will request additional information from the education institution to confirm that the costs are reasonable, based on their local knowledge.
Travel payments are made to the education institution. The education institution should reimburse the travel payment to the young parent, or use it to arrange transport for the young parent, as appropriate.
If the young parent withdraws from their study programme, the education institution may be required to pay back any travel payments that have not been used to the SBSS.
Childminder network/broker payments
A one off £100 childminder network/broker payment will be made for each application which is supported by a network/broker or childminder agency, if they are acting in the capacity set out below, that results in a young parent starting their study programme. This is dependent on that network/broker or childminder agency providing at least 3 of the 5 services listed below:
- brokerage, in terms of providing a list of available childminders, this involves using knowledge of the childminder and their arrangements to explain alternative provision to the young person
- matching, to help the young parent identify a suitable childminder who meets their needs and is convenient for travel, for example, this may involve visits and discussions
- agreeing terms and conditions for the childminding that meet the young parent’s needs, these would go beyond price alone and include issues such as timing, drop off and collection, diet, routine and behavioural issues it may also extend to agreeing flexibilities for study, vacations, deposits and retainers, ideally set out in a formal written agreement
- using briefings, arranging training and working with childcare providers to meet the needs of young parents
- retaining an ongoing interest in the young parent for the duration of the course and assisting where possible in any change of arrangements
In addition, the network/broker or agency must be recognised by their local authority, Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership, or Family Information Service, or the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.
The childcare provider is asked on the Care to Learn application to make a formal declaration about whether they have been supported by a childminding network/broker or a childminder agency acting in this capacity.
Educational institution administration payments
A one off payment of £80 will be made to education institutions for each new young parent accessing Care to Learn to support their administrative costs for the attendance monitoring requirements of the scheme. Only one payment per young parent per academic year will be issued. Payment will be made following confirmation from the education institution that the young parent is in attendance.
Payments for childcare will only be made while the young parent is still attending their study programme and the child is still in childcare. Both the education institution and childcare provider are required to complete monthly attendance monitoring returns online via the SBSS portal.
Attendance monitoring returns should be completed online and submitted to the SBSS within 7 working days of becoming available via the portal in order to avoid payments being withheld. An email will be sent to education institutions and childcare providers when the attendance monitoring returns are available.
Young parents and their child(ren) are expected to attend their respective provision for all the hours stated in the application, but there may be occasions where this is not possible, for example, because of illness or family emergency. For that reason, there is no required level of attendance set for Care to Learn. Education institutions should use their discretion to assess whether a young parent is still attending their study programme, considering the number of and reasons for absences to decide whether or not reasonable attendance has been met.
Failure by education institutions or childcare providers to complete and submit attendance monitoring returns within 7 working days will result in childcare and travel payments being withheld. Education institutions and childcare providers should notify the SBSS immediately if the young parent has stopped attending their study programme or has removed their child from childcare.
Change of circumstances
The SBSS must be notified immediately if any of the following circumstances change:
- childcare arrangements – for example, hours of childcare provided, fee rates, new or additional childcare provider(s), additional child
- study arrangements – for example change in the number of hours for the study programme, change of study programme aims resulting in fewer hours at the institution, new or additional education institution(s)
- travel costs between childcare and home – increase, decrease or the young parent wishes to claim these for the first time
- childcare provider/education institution bank details
- young parent’s personal details
Change of circumstances must be reported through the SBSS portal by the young person in the first instance. The SBSS will then contact the education institution and childcare provider if needed.
Where study lasts for more than one academic year, or where the young parent is progressing onto a further study programme or to University, a summer retainer can be paid to enable the childcare place to be kept open over the summer holiday period.
To be eligible for a summer retainer in 2016 the young parent must be:
- on a study programme that has lasted for 6 weeks or more in the 2015 to 2016 academic year
- on a study programme that finishes no earlier than 29 May 2016
- continuing with the same childcare provider they used in the 2015 to 2016 academic year
- have been using the childcare provider for a minimum of 6 weeks
Summer retainer applications for summer 2016 will be managed online. Guidance to help young parents complete the process will be available, as for the 2016 to 2017 academic year application, but any students unable to complete the process online should call the SBSS helpline on 0800 121 8989.
The summer retainer application must be completed and submitted to the SBSS before the end of the summer holiday period.
Summer retainer applications for 2016 which are received by the SBSS after 1 September 2016 will not be paid.
Audit requirements and overpayments
Education institutions and childcare providers are expected to retain accurate, robust and up to date records on attendance and funds received in order to ensure the effective reconciliation of payments.
Care to Learn overpayments
Any Care to Learn overpayments that have been made as a result of error or fraud will be recovered. This includes all childcare payments, including deposits, registration fees, retainers (including summer retainers), travel payments, education institution administration payments and broker fees. If false or incomplete information has been provided we may refer the matter to the police and this could result in prosecution.
Where any Care to Learn overpayments have been made as a result of error by the young parent, education institution or childcare provider, recovery action may be taken, each case will be considered on an individual basis.
Complaints and appeals
All complaints and appeals must be made in writing to the SBSS. This can be done by registering the complaint or appeal on their SBSS portal account using the Issue Reporting function or by sending an email to C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk.
If the complaint/appeal concerns operational processes or a complaint about customer service, it will be dealt with by the SBSS in the first instance. If the complaint/appeal is about Care to Learn policy, the SBSS will refer it to EFA’s Young People Group for a response.
In the event that they are still dissatisfied with the way in which their appeal has been dealt with, the complainant may refer to the Department for Education’s complaints procedure. For more information, see the Department for Education complaints procedure on GOV.UK.
For education institutions, childcare providers and providers of information, advice and guidance etc:
- phone: Student Bursary Support Service provider helpline: 0300 303 8610
- email: C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk
- website: www.gov.uk/care-to-learn
For young parents:
- phone: Student Bursary Support Service student helpline: 0800 121 8989 (calls are free from a landline, charges from mobiles will vary depending on individual tariffs but young parents can request a call back to minimise the cost)
- website: www.gov.uk/care-to-learn