Flying Start Childcare Frequently Asked Questions

Flying Start Childcare Frequently Asked Questions


What is the definition of an eligible child?

If your child lives in a Flying Start area, they can access Flying Start Childcare from the term following their second birthday up until the end of the term that they turn three. There are specific deadline dates by which your child must be 2 years old to qualify for childcare the following term. See When to apply

I don’t think I’ll be eligible, how can I check?

We have recently expanded the areas that are eligible to receive Flying Start Childcare, if you haven’t done so already, we would encourage you to follow the link below to our postcode checker to check if you’re eligible –

Other postcodes around me are entitled, I think my postcode should be included?

Flying Start is a geographically targeted programme which uses income benefit data, a proxy indicator for poverty, to target areas with the highest proportions of children aged 0-3 living in income benefit households. These areas have been identified using the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD), data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs and are broken down by Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs).

The LSOAs have boundaries which means that some postcodes next to each other may fall in different LSOAs. However, if you feel that your postcode is amongst others entitled postcodes then please contact us so we can check this for you.

Why is the childcare not available for all 2 year olds?

Welsh Government are committed to delivering a phased expansion of early years provision to include all two-year-olds. Phase 1 of the expansion of Flying Start, was launched in September 2022 and included all four elements of the Flying Start programme, enhanced Health Visiting, support for speech, language and communication, parenting support, and high-quality childcare. Phase 2, from April 2023, focuses on a phased roll out of the part-time, high-quality childcare element of Flying Start to 2-3 year olds. Phase 3 will scope what may be required to move to universal Flying Start for all children across Wales. Welsh Government have not yet confirmed when this is likely to commence.

I’m working so why can’t my child access the childcare just because I don’t live in the right postcode.

Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s targeted Early Years programme for families with children under 4 years of age who live in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Wales. Flying Start aims to make a decisive difference to the life chances of children by mitigating the impact of poverty, which is linked to poor life outcomes in early childhood, including health outcomes.

The programme is not linked to council tax bandings. Flying Start is a geographically targeted programme which uses income benefit data, a proxy indicator for poverty, to target areas with the highest proportions of children aged 0-3 living in income benefit households. These areas have been identified using the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD), data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs and are broken down by Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs).

If you are working or in education or training you may be able to claim up to 30 hours of early education and childcare in Wales per week, for up to 48 weeks of the year for your 3 to 4 year old. For more information please visit our Childcare offer for Wales Webpage.

What happens where parents have separated but do not share equal custody of a child?

To be eligible for funding, your child must be living in a Flying Start postcode. This should be the child’s main home address, the address to which their Child Benefit is paid and is the address registered with the child’s Health Visitor.  This form should be completed by the main parent who is living at the same address as the child.

What happens in families where parents live apart but have equal custody of a child?

To be eligible for funding, your child must be living in a Flying Start postcode. This should be the child’s main home address, the address to which their Child Benefit is paid and is the address registered with the child’s Health Visitor.  This form should be completed by the main parent who is living at the same address as the child.

What happens if my child is accessing Flying Start childcare but we move to a new address within the Caerphilly county borough?

You or your childcare provider must complete a change of address form to tell us about the new address. If you have moved to another Flying Start area, your child will be able to continue to receive the funding. However, if you do not, your funding may need to stop. There are some circumstances where you may be able to continue to receive the funding through Flying Start outreach. In these cases, you may be asked to complete an amendment to your existing application.

What happens if my child is accessing Flying Start childcare in the Caerphilly county borough and we move to a new local authority area?

You or your childcare provider must complete a change of address form to tell us about the new address. Then, you need to make a new application to the new local authority. Click here to find the local authority. They will check your child is eligible the complete the necessary checks.

Can I choose a childcare setting closer to where I work?

Yes. If your child has been approved for Flying Start childcare, we will fund the placement at any of our approved Flying Start childcare settings. It does not need to be the settings closest to where you live.

Accessing Flying Start Childcare

How many hours of childcare will be funded?

Flying Start Childcare is a maximum of 12.5 hours per week, during term-time only.

Which times of day can Flying Start Childcare be accessed?

High quality part time Flying Start childcare sessions focus on improving the outcomes for children and to support their transition into early education and beyond. To achieve maximum benefit, sessions should be 2½ hours per day, 5 days a week. Whilst there is some flexibility with this, which can be discussed on an individual basis, we would encourage children to access a Flying Start session which does not include sleep or lunch times.

Is there a limit to the number of hours Flying Start Childcare can be accessed during any one day?

Yes. Sessions should be for 2.5 hours per day, 5 days a week, so that the child gets the maximum benefit from the programme. However, in some circumstances, if you are a working family for example, you may wish to use 2 sessions a day (this equates to 5 hours, which is the maximum) to support your work pattern. You can discuss this with your chosen Flying Start childcare provider to check if their registration would allow for this. Both the Flying Start setting and the family must agree this arrangement.

Further national guidance is as follows:

  • Sessions times must support the needs of the family. If only a 2.5-hour session is required per day, under the terms of the contract and in adherence with their Statement of Purpose, the provider must accommodate this request.
  • A flexible approach to the number of sessions attended is often required to cater for the needs of parents or children. For example, if a parent decides to bring the child for three sessions only, this should be accommodated. However, providers should encourage parents to take up their full entitlement where possible.
  • The Flying Start childcare session should be focussed on high quality development opportunities and so should not include sleep, lunch, or wraparound care.
  • Sessions times must be transparent and stated in the childcare provider’s Statement of Purpose. To access two sessions in one day, the childcare setting must be registered for full day care and identify the sessions in their Statement of Purpose clearly identifying that children could stay for two sessions a day. More than 2.5 hours cannot be provided by sessional providers who can only deliver care for the same child for less than 4hours in one day.
  • Anything outside the agreed approved Flying Start funded hours, for example more than the 2.5 / 5-hour session, is regarded as additional hours and must be agreed in the contract between the parent and the provider as they would be chargeable by the provider.

Can I carry over unused hours to the next week or school holidays?

No. You are not able to ‘bank’ childcare hours, in other words, carry over any unused hours from one week to another. Nor can unused hours be used in school holidays. Flying Start childcare is term time only. The number of hours funded cannot exceed 12.5 in any term time week and you can choose how much of the 12.5 hours to take up. Any hours not used in a week will be lost. You can pay for additional hours of childcare, over and above the 12.5 hours, at your own expense.

Is there flexibility to change the hours booked within a week?

Yes, this is possible provided the childcare provider can accommodate the change. They must complete a new Individual Child Placement Form. If you wish to increase the funded hours, this cannot exceed 12.5 hours of funding per week or more than 5 hours within any one day.

Who can deliver Flying Start Childcare?

The funded childcare is only available at approved childcare settings who have met the required quality criteria and are contracted via the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) to provide Flying Start childcare on our behalf.

We are currently working to increase the number of Flying Start childcare places available in the county borough by supporting our childcare providers who are not yet contracted to offer Flying Start to meet the quality criteria required by the scheme. We will continue to update the list of providers as more are able to offer Flying Start.

Can I use a flying Start childcare provider that is outside of the Caerphilly county borough?

Yes, however the childcare setting must be contracted via the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) by Caerphilly to provide Flying Start childcare.

What happens if my childcare provider does not want to offer Flying Start Childcare?

If you are using, or wish to use, a childcare provider who is not contracted by us to provide Flying Start childcare, you must decide whether to continue with that provider and not receive the funding or to use an alternative provider that is contracted to provide Flying Start.

How many approved Flying Start childcare settings can my child access?

A fundamental aim of the Flying Start programme is to offer the child consistent, quality childcare. Therefore, we discourage you from using more than one childcare provider for Flying Start childcare. However, there may be some exceptional circumstances where you may need to access more than one provider and, in such cases, your child can access a maximum of two approved childcare settings, at any given time.

Is Flying Start Childcare available during bank holidays?

Yes, if your childcare provider that is open on a bank holiday, then this can be funded through Flying Start. However, the provider will receive the same rate even if it is their policy to charge more on bank holidays.

Childcare Provider Questions

What is included in the Flying Start Childcare rate?

The standard daily rate is £16 per child per 2.5-hour session, which includes all consumables required for the effective delivery of the service, for example, a healthy snack, resources for all learning activities, leader release time for paperwork and training release time. It excludes food, transport, and other additional charges such as paid-for activities and trips. Parents eligible for Flying Start funded provision should not be disadvantaged by additional charges should they not wish to take up those additional activities. For example, parents could collect prior to lunch at the end of the Flying Start childcare session and not incur any additional charges for lunch. For further clarification regarding the rate, please refer to the DPS

Can I charge a parent top-up fees for those hours funded by Flying Start?

No. You cannot charge hourly top-up fees, even if you would normally charge more than the funding received for the Flying Start Childcare sessions.

Should I be applying the same session rate in respect of Flying Start and non-Flying Start parents?

The Flying Start guidance does not stipulate that providers should charge the same rate for Flying Start and non-Flying Start parents. Any charges for privately funded childcare places would be at the discretion of the childcare provider to set.

Can I charge for food and additional activities?

A snack is usually provided during the 2.5-hour session which would be in line with our healthy and sustainable preschool scheme. You cannot charge extra for healthy snacks. If a working parent wishes to use two sessions in a day to fit their working pattern, we anticipate that there would be additional time for lunch and a lunch in line with your normal day. In these circumstances you can charge additional fees to parents for meals outside of the Flying Start sessions; however, this should not exceed more than £7.50 per day. You can also charge for activities and transport, such as trips off site that incur an additional cost or pick-ups/drop offs. However, these additional costs should not disadvantage any parent who is unable to pay for this additional service and only needs the Flying Start session. See also question number 16.

Can I request that parents pay for their Flying Start hours in advance, then reimburse them when payment comes through from the local authority?

No. The Flying Start childcare placement is aimed at supporting families, particularly lower income families who would not otherwise be able to afford childcare costs.  Charging parents in advance of services received could exclude those parents most in need of support as they may well not be able to afford it.

If I take holiday during term time, will I get paid?

The Flying Start Childcare Guidance from the Welsh Government states, ‘The core Flying Start childcare offer is made available to parents/carers of all eligible 2–3-year-olds for 12 ½ hours per week, 39 weeks of the year, in line with school terms.’  However, a childcare provider could take a holiday during term time and the sessions provided during the school holidays provided there is mutual agreement between the affected families and the childcare provider. This would also need to be approved by the Early Years Team so that the registers and payments can be modified.

Will Flying Start childcare funding cover non direct childcare costs, such as a holiday retainer or an upfront administration or holding fee?

No. The Flying Start childcare funding relates only to the direct provision of childcare.  When submitting the tender to deliver Flying Start childcare, you do so on the understanding that the place is term time only and you should adjust your policies and charges accordingly. However, if a parent elects to use a childcare provider that charges retainer fees or other administrative costs, this is a matter for the parent and must be paid for by the parent.

Can Flying Start childcare payments be backdated if a parent has been accessing the childcare before their application has been approved?

No, funding cannot start until the funding has been approved through an approved ICP. A parent can access the childcare whilst they are waiting for their application to be processed but this will be at their own cost. Flying Start childcare payments are not backdated.

Do providers still get paid if the child is sick?

Yes. Flying Start childcare funding will cover the costs of the hours booked, even where the child does not attend. However, attendance is monitored, and the family will be supported to attend. You should encourage good attendance and discuss with the parent if there are patterns of non-attendance to check the sessions fit the family’s needs. If the family are open to children’s services, you should contact the social worker. You are expected to tell us if there are consistent patterns of unexplained non-attendance over a two-month period.

Can childcare providers in the Caerphilly county borough provide Flying Start childcare to children from other local authority areas?

Yes. However, you will need to discuss the potential funding with the relevant local authority. Caerphilly CBC cannot fund children who live outside of the borough.

What if the child lives half the week with mum in Merthyr and half the week with dad in Caerphilly?

The funding will depend on where the child lives for most of the week. For example, if the child lives with mum in Merthyr Monday to Thursday and dad in Caerphilly Friday to Sunday, the mum will need to be the nominated lead and the application must be made to Merthyr Council as the majority of residency and both local authorities informed.

One of the parents needs to be nominated to act as the lead parent and will need to live in a Flying Start Area. The way in which the funded hours are used by parents is a matter for them to agree.

How long does it take to complete an Individual Child Placement form?

The Individual Child Placement form needs to be completed with both parent and provider present and takes approximately 2-3 minutes to complete if you have all the information you need ready.

Can a parent choose any Flying Start approved childcare setting?

Yes. If the child has been approved for Flying Start childcare, we will fund the placement at any of our approved Flying Start childcare settings. It does not need to be the setting closest to where they live. The parent can go to Dewis and choose any Approved Flying Start Childcare setting, then contact the setting to see if they have space.

If a parent does not have access to a smart phone or any IT, how can they check or be supported to apply?

If the family does not have support from the Early Years team, they can contact the Early Years Hub, who can meet parents in community venues like libraries to support them to complete the application form.

The accessibility toolbar on the Early Years website can also help families with literacy and language barriers by reading the website out to them and/or changing to another language.

I am a childminder, so I can’t do the Level 5 qualification as I don’t have any assistants and so cannot manage staff. Can I still apply to deliver Flying Start places?

Yes. We are currently working with Welsh Government to ensure there are no barriers to meeting the quality needed. The current expectation is to work towards achieving the full Level 3 Children’s Care Play Learning and Development qualification, to be able to apply to deliver the Flying Start contract.

However, if you have an assistant registered to work with you, the Level 5 qualification can be achieved and there is an expectation to work towards this level.

PACEY are also working with childminders to support access to appropriate level 3, 4 and 5 qualifications.

As a day care setting, we don’t have a leader with the level 5 qualification yet. Can we apply to deliver the Flying Start places?

Yes. We recognise there needs to be time allowed for childcare staff to increase their qualifications. Therefore, we will accept childcare providers onto the contract if you are working towards achieving the correct qualification for the setting.

How will it work for me as a childminder if my children already come full time and I already have 2-year-olds attending my setting?

We understand childminders will have a different ratio in line with the regulations (only 3 children under 5 years) and not 1:4 ratio in group-based settings. If you have 2-year-olds attending, please check their postcode for eligibility and support the parent to apply if they are eligible. Once approved, the parent can then access 12.5 hours of funding per week as 5 Flying Start sessions of their existing booked hours and then have a contract with you (and pay you separately) for the additional hours they need per week. We understand you can only offer extra places if you have vacancies and would not expect you to exclude any child already booked in with you.

We are a full-time day nursery, but the flying start funding is term time. Can we insist that parents attend all year-round, and then net the funding off against the parent’s fees? We don’t have term time only staff.

If you sign up to the contract for delivery of Flying Start, you will need to look at how you can offer the term time only part time provision in your business model. It may be worth talking to your Childcare Officer in greater detail. However, you cannot require parents to sign up for longer than the Flying Start hours.

This is the same principle if parents only wish to attend for the 2.5 hour session and they do not wish to book a full day place and pay for additional hours. You will need to consider your business model and how you will be able to offer the sessional provision.

What about staff training and ‘inset’ days? How is this organised?

There is access to a lot of training under the Flying Start programme, which may be delivered in the evening, on Saturdays and during the day Monday to Friday. There will be a range of support and you will need to look at your setting and staff needs to include them in your Setting Improvement Plan and work with your Childcare Advisor to identify training needs and times suitable to release staff.

If you need to close your setting to allow all staff to attend training, we will still pay the normal booked sessions which should cover the cost of the staff for the training session. Where possible we will work with providers to organise training outside of sessions times.

What happens if we decide we don’t want to deliver the Flying Start contract?

You will be able to continue with fee paying parents and the Childcare Offer, but you will not be able to deliver any contracted funded places like Flying Start, Assisted Places or Early Years Education.

Will we be less likely to have any grants if we do not sign up for Flying Start?

No not necessarily. However, when grants are oversubscribed, the areas where expansion of provision (places or funded provision) is needed will be prioritised. This will be clear in the terms and conditions of the grant and the priorities identified within it.

How long does it take to be accepted on to the DPS contract to be able to offer the Flying Start places?

It will depend on the volume of settings applying at the same time, as well as how quickly the setting can pass the pre-delivery checks. However, the early years team are all working together to approve settings as quickly as possible ready for delivery after Easter.

The DPS will remain open so settings can join later if they wish.

Settings will need to apply to come onto the DPS and be approved.

Then they will have an ITERS assessment with the Childcare Advisor.

The Advisor will support the setting to develop a Setting Action Plan.

Once the key actions needed are achieved the setting will be Approved to deliver Flying Start places.

Dewis will be updated with the # to ensure the setting is pulled through to the list in the parent searches.

The setting will continue to work on other actions in their Setting Improvement Action Plan to continuously improve quality in their provision. They will be able to deliver Flying Start places while doing this.

Settings will have lots of support throughout the process and ongoing support once they are delivering Flying Start places.

Are settings expected to offer settling in sessions for new children starting, and if during those sessions a provider has concerns about a child, where do they go for advice?

Yes, we would hope that the first booked sessions a child accesses would have some settling in time planned with the parent. Many children may be experiencing childcare for the first time and so it is important to explain to the parent that they may need shorter sessions to start and build up over the first week or so.

If you have concerns about a child, you should discuss the concerns with the parent and seek advice from the Childcare Advisor.

If my childcare setting is already delivering Assisted Places, do I need to reapply through the system?

You can log into your account and apply for other ‘Lots’ without needing to do all the information again. So, if you are already approved to deliver Assisted Places, you can also request to deliver Flying Start. Support is available through Procurement and the Early Years team. Once you pass the delivery checks, you will be Approved to deliver the Flying Start funded places as well as Assisted Places.

What happens if the funding does not cover staff wages as wage rates are increasing and does not consider employer National Insurance Contributions, Pension, Holiday etc.?

You will need to consider your business model and how it will work in your setting. However, there is business support from the Childcare team.
The price per place is calculated at £2950 per year, so on the 1:4 ratio (1 member of staff for 4 children), it would calculate to be £11,800. If this is insufficient to cover part time staff, then we would need to consider this with you and your detailed information. However, the price is set per hour per child and any changes would affect all settings and must remain within the budget allowed.

If a child needed some additional support, they would come at a higher price per place paid to the setting to accommodate for any additional staff hours required.

If a child eligible for Flying Start childcare but is already in a childcare setting that does not offer Flying Start, can they move setting?

Yes, if the parent wishes to benefit from the funding they may decide to move to a setting that is contracted to provide Flying Start. They would be required to give notice to their existing setting under their existing contract, before making plans to move. However, this is the parent’s choice, and they may decide to stay where they are and forgo the funding.

What happens when parents are late collecting from the setting? can we charge the parents to cover the staffing?

The setting should have a contract with the family about their child’s placement. If you as a setting normally have late charges in your contracts, this will apply. However, Flying Start funded placements are targeted at the most disadvantaged communities and so we would want you to be careful not to negatively impact families who may already have difficult circumstances. Any costs should be reasonable and there needs to be discussion with the parent to ensure the charges do not build up to adversely affect the child, family, and setting. If there are concerns with frequent late arrivals and the parent may need support, please contact early years so the family can access appropriate support.

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