This guide provides information to all those involved in the delivery of the Care to Learn scheme in the 2017 to 2018 academic year.
This guide provides information to all those involved in delivering the Care to Learn (C2L) scheme in the 2017 to 2018 academic year. It provides general information about the eligibility criteria and application process but does not offer advice for every situation. Stakeholders who need further or more detailed help should contact the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk who administer C2L on behalf of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
The further information section provides useful telephone numbers; email and website addresses.
A summary of Care to Learn in the 2017 to 2018 academic year
The intention of C2L is to help young parents (defined as those aged under 20) to continue in 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. C2L can also help with travel costs involved in taking the child to the childcare provider.
The scheme provides up to a maximum 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.
C2L will only fund childcare provision that is registered with Ofsted.
To get C2L, young parents, their education institution and their childcare provider must all meet the eligibility criteria.
Young parents must complete and submit a new application each academic year even if their study programme runs for more than one year.
Young parents should apply for C2L before the start of their study programme or as soon as possible after they start so their eligibility can be confirmed and payments can start quickly. It is important young parents know 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 the SBSS receive the application.
Young parents can apply before their baby is born, but SBSS cannot assess their application until they provide all the child’s details.
Stakeholders should tell young parents about the availability of financial support for childcare through C2L to help them make more informed decisions about their options. Some examples of ways in which stakeholders have sought to raise awareness of C2L and/or worked together to encourage young parents to apply for help from the scheme are included in the section Raising awareness of Care to Learn.
Care to Learn eligibility criteria
To receive C2L, the young parent, their education institution and childcare provider must all meet the eligibility criteria.
The young parent must be aged under 20 years old on the date they start their study programme. Young parents who become 20 during their study programme will continue to get funding to the end of that specific study programme, so 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 C2L. If a young parent loses custody of their child(ren), even temporarily, they must tell the SBSS immediately. The mother or father of the child can claim C2L as long as:
- the other parent is unable to provide childcare, for example, 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 C2L, a young parent must 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.
If 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, ESFA 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.
Education 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 be a defined programme of study.
The following are examples of study programmes that are eligible for C2L. It 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 and parenting 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, for example, a 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
- 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
Young parents can apply before their study programme dates are finalised but SBSS cannot assess the application until confirmation of the study programme details.
Study time and work experience placements
Young parents can claim C2L for independent study time required as part of their study programme, for example, to complete coursework, undertake revision or homework. The amount of independent study time must be agreed between the young parent and their education institution.
C2L will support time needed to undertake work experience placements, but only where these have been 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 C2L 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+) such as 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). Childminder agencies who register with Ofsted on behalf of the childminders they represent must also provide evidence of their Ofsted registration.
Where a childcare provider is related to the child, the childcare provider must:
- live apart from the child
- be providing registered childcare for other children who are not related at the same time as the child they are related to
- be Ofsted registered
Other sources of childcare support and Care to Learn
Local authorities have a duty to provide government funded early education 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 free childcare on GOV.UK.
ESFA expects young parents to access this entitlement before applying for funding from C2L. Young parents may apply for C2L 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.
If a young parent is receiving Child Tax Credits, any childcare hours being requested for C2L payments must not already be being funded from Child Tax Credits. This point is explicitly referenced in the declaration on the application.
The Care to Learn application process
Applications for C2L are made online. Guidance is available throughout the process to help in the completion of the application.
New C2L applicants and young parents who applied for C2L in the previous academic year have separate application links into the on-line portal.
Young parents who applied for C2L in the previous academic year should continue to use the same log in details. If the young parent has forgotten their details, they should choose the appropriate option on the SBSS portal log in screen to obtain them.
To apply, the young parent will need to know:
- their childcare provider details including contact name, email address and Ofsted registration number (not the Registered Person (RP) number)
- details for their chosen education institution including contact name, email address and phone number
- details of any extra 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, they can partially complete it and save it. When they have the information, they can log back in to the portal to complete the application.
If the young parent does not know the Ofsted registration number for their childcare provider they can get this from the childcare provider or can search for it at Ofsted reports.
Once they have completed the application in full, young parents need to read and agree to the privacy notice and declaration before they submit it.
Young parents will receive an email from the SBSS to confirm the application has been submitted.
After the young parent has applied, they must give their education institution either:
- a copy of their child’s birth certificate or
- a letter confirming receipt of Child Benefit for that child
Education institutions need these documents to complete their section of the application. ESFA asks education institutions to remind any young parents who they know are applying for C2L about the importance of providing them with the required documents. Payments to the young parent’s childcare provider cannot be made until this documentation is with the education institution.
After the young parent has submitted their application the SBSS will make contact with the young parent’s chosen childcare provider and education institution. They will 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 as they did in the last academic year. The SBSS will provide any childcare providers or education institutions who have not previously accessed the portal with login credentials.
The SBSS cannot process the application until all parties have completed their part of the application.
It is important that all parties: young parent, education institution and childcare provider understand the content of the relevant declarations before submitting their part of the application.
C2L applications must not be submitted by one of the other parties involved in the application process without the young parent’s knowledge.
ESFA appreciates help education institutions and childcare providers give to any young parents who experience difficulties completing the application. ESFA would, however, like to remind education institutions and childcare providers that the young parent’s log in details are private and they should not use them on the young parent’s behalf.
Young parents can call the SBSS student helpline on 0800 121 8989 or they can use the online webchat function for help and advice. Calls to the student helpline are free from a landline, but there is a charge for calls from a mobile. Young parents can request a call back to minimise the cost.
ESFA encourages support workers, childcare providers and education institutions to contact the SBSS provider helpline on 0300 303 8610 or use the online webchat function 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 assess the application to determine eligibility for C2L when all 3 parties have completed their parts of the process. These checks will verify whether the childcare provider; education institution and study programme are eligible. They will also check that the childcare hours being requested are reasonable in comparison with the number of hours for the study programme.
The SBSS will not make C2L payments until they have received and approved all information from the young parent, education institution and childcare provider and a payment plan has been issued. It is particularly important that childcare providers are 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 (not the Registered Person (RP) 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 that submit school census returns
- students Learner Reference Number (LRN) for those institutions that submit individualised learner record (ILR) data returns
- study programme name, level and length. This must be the full study programme length, for example:
- if the student is studying a 2 year NVQ programme starting on 1 September 2017 and ending on 17 July 2019 enter these dates
- if the student started a 2 year NVQ programme (at the same level) on 2 September 2016 which ends on 17 July 2018 enter these dates
- 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 only the dates for the new study programme should be entered
- number of hours in the study programme each week
- breaks in learning for example 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 C2L eligibility to the young parent, childcare provider and education institution. The SBSS will issue a payment plan that confirms the payment amount for each week and the dates between which childcare costs will be paid.
Where the young parent intends to use more than one childcare provider, SBSS will generate a payment plan for each childcare provider. The combined amounts on each plan will not exceed the C2L 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.
Eligibility for C2L covers the whole or remainder of the academic year so the young parent can 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 they still meet the eligibility criteria). Any changes during the year must be notified to the SBSS via a change of circumstances process available on the portal. Changes may impact on the dates and costs set out in the payment plan.
The SBSS will also confirm the payment amount for additional travel costs, if applicable.
If the young parent is not eligible for C2L, the SBSS will send a refusal email to explain why. They will also send a copy 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, they will backdate payments to the start date. Applications received after the 28 day period will receive payments from the Monday of the week the SBSS received the application.
The administration of Care to Learn
If the young parent is eligible for C2L, the SBSS will make payments for childcare to the childcare provider or childminder agency. The SBSS will make payments for the young parent’s travel costs to the education institution.
The SBSS make all payments securely by the Banks Automated Clearing System (BACS).
C2L 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 SBSS will pay the funds to the childcare provider or childminder agency each month in advance. Childcare providers must ensure they understand that the SBSS will not make any C2L payments until they have received all the information required from the young parent, education institution and childcare provider.
C2L will support childcare hours in reasonable excess of the study programme hours to allow time for travel between the 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 to keep the childcare place open over the summer holiday period if the young parent is finishing study in one year and continuing on the programme, or starting a new programme, in the next academic year. The young parent and their study programme must continue to meet the eligibility criteria for a summer retainer to be payable.
Summer retainers must be applied for separately as they are not part of the main application. The closing date for summer retainer applications is 1 September 2017. The SBSS will not process or pay any summer retainer applications received after this date.
The SBSS can pay deposits of up to £250 per child to the childcare provider if required. They will deduct the amount of deposit from the first month’s childcare payment. If the first month’s childcare payment is not enough they will deduct the balance from the second month’s 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 also be paid by the scheme. These fees are not deducted from future childcare payments.
Young parents can 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 education 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 are not 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 requested seems high, the SBSS will request more information from the education institution to confirm that the costs are reasonable, based on their local knowledge.
The SBSS pays travel payments to the education institution. The education institution should make travel payments 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 unused travel payments to the SBSS.
Childminder network/broker payments
The SBSS will make a one off £100 childminder network/broker payment for each application supported by a network/broker or childminder agency. To receive the payment they must be acting in the capacity set out below, resulting in a young parent starting their study programme. They will need to provide at least 3 of the 5 services listed below:
- brokerage - providing a list of available childminders and using knowledge to explain alternative provision to the young person
- matching – helping to identify a suitable childminder who meets their needs and is convenient, potentially involving 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 assisting where possible in any change of arrangements
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 C2L application asks childcare providers to make a formal declaration about whether they have been supported by a childminding network/broker or a childminder agency acting in this capacity.
Education institution administration payments
The SBSS will make a one off payment of £80 to education institutions for each new young parent accessing C2L. This is to support their administrative costs for the attendance monitoring requirements. They will only issue one payment per young parent per academic year. Payment will be made following confirmation from the education institution that the young parent is in attendance.
The SBSS will only make payments for childcare while the young parent is attending their study programme and the child is in childcare. The education institution and childcare provider must both complete monthly attendance monitoring returns.
The SBSS will send an email to institutions and childcare providers when monitoring returns are available to complete on the SBSS portal. The returns must be completed within 7 working days of becoming available or payments may be withheld.
Young parents and their child(ren) are expected to attend their respective provision for all the hours stated in the application. 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 for C2L. Education institutions should use their discretion and consider the number of absences and the reasons for absences to decide if the young parent has met reasonable attendance levels.
Education institutions and childcare providers must notify the SBSS immediately if the young parent has stopped attending or has removed their child from childcare.
Change of circumstances
The SBSS must be notified immediately if any of the following 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
The young parent must report all change of circumstances through the SBSS portal. The SBSS will then contact the education institution and childcare provider if needed.
The SBSS can pay a summer retainer to enable the childcare place to remain open over the summer holiday if:
- the study lasts for more than one academic year
- the young parent is progressing onto a further study programme
- the young parent is progressing onto University
To be eligible for a summer retainer in 2017 the young parent must be:
- on a study programme that has lasted for 6 weeks or more in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
- on a study programme that finishes no earlier than 26 May 2017
- continuing with the same childcare provider they used in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
- have been using the childcare provider for a minimum of 6 weeks
Summer retainer applications are made online. Guidance to help complete the application is available in the SBSS portal. Any young parent who is unable to complete the application online should call the SBSS student helpline on 0800 121 8989.
The closing date for summer retainers for 2017 is 1 September 2017. The SBSS will not process or pay any applications received after this date.
Audit requirements and overpayments
Education institutions and childcare providers must keep attendance and funding records. These need to be accurate, robust and up to date to ensure the effective reconciliation of payments and provide a clear audit trail.
Care to Learn overpayments
The SBSS will recover C2L overpayments made as a result of error or fraud:
- C2L payments made as a result of fraudulent activity - this includes all childcare payments, including deposits, registration fees, retainers, travel payments, education institution administration payments and broker fees
- if we receive false or incomplete information that results in a fraudulent application being paid we may refer the matter to the police, and this could result in prosecution
- overpayments as the result of error by the young parent, education institution or childcare provider
- the action we take for any overpayments as a result of error will be considered on a case by case 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 the SBSS portal account using the ‘Issue Reporting’ function or by sending an email to C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk.
If the complaint/appeal is about operational processes or a complaint about customer service, the SBSS will deal with it in the first instance. If the complaint/appeal is about C2L policy, the SBSS will refer it to ESFA for a response.
In the complainant is still dissatisfied with the way in which their appeal/complaint has been dealt with, they may refer to the Department for Education’s Complaints Procedure. For more information, see the Department for Education complaints procedure
Raising awareness of Care to Learn
Stakeholders are encouraged to raise awareness of child care support via C2L and to encourage young parents to apply for the scheme. These are some examples of current activity you may wish to consider:
Joint working between education colleges and their local authority
College welfare advisors have fostered a close working relationship with their counterparts in their local authority, pooling resources to extend their reach to young parents. Local authority support workers engage with young parents, ensuring the relationship with, and support for the young parent continues through from school to college and through to higher education. They practice an effective ‘hand-over’ from secondary school to FE provision and beyond. This gives continuous support to young parents, leading to less disruption and a higher level of advice and information.
Support workers help young parents to complete C2L applications and help them to find suitable childcare facilities.
Proactively promoting C2L at school and college open day events and developing information packs and posters
Some schools and colleges actively raise awareness of the availability of C2L by including information in open day presentations and at events to ensure young parents are aware that help with childcare costs is available to them when they’re thinking about their education options.
Students have said they find it helpful if information about C2L is also included in information packs and posters; with posters being displayed in student areas to reach a wider student audience.
Institutions agree that this helps existing students and prospective students who are parents but also feel it helps with more general awareness amongst students without children if their circumstances change later.
Checking if students might be eligible for C2L in college application forms
Colleges have added a question into their application and registration forms to ask ‘Are you a young parent?’ This helps them to identify and approach students who may need additional help with childcare costs.
‘Next steps’ guidance from midwives and healthcare providers
Midwives and healthcare providers (in particular those with parents under the age of 18 on their caseloads) build information about C2L into the information packs they give to young parents and/or raise awareness of C2L in discussions with young parents. This can be especially helpful to raise in the early stages of pregnancy so the young parent can make informed decisions about continuing in education after their baby has been born.
Including information about C2L on websites and in printed materials
It can be helpful to include either information about C2L on individual stakeholder websites or via a link to information on GOV.UK about C2L. Including even a short line about C2L in any printed materials aimed at providing information to young people – leaflets in waiting areas, for example – can help raise awareness.
For education institutions, childcare providers and providers of information, advice and guidance:
- phone: Student Bursary Support Service provider helpline: 0300 303 8610
- email: C2L@studentbursarysupport.co.uk
- website: 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: Care to Learn