If you are under 20 with childcare responsibilities, you can get help with your childcare costs through Care to Learn when you return to learning.
As long as you use a registered childcare provider, you could receive up to £160 per child per week to pay for childcare and travel costs. Care to Learn will pay the money directly to your childcare provider and course provider.
The childcare must be Ofsted-registered, and if it is provided by a relative, then they must live in a separate household to the child and be providing care for other children too.
If you know what learning you want to do and have been provisionally accepted by your learning provider, you should complete a Care to Learn application form. You can request one by calling the Learner Support helpline on 0800 121 8989.
If you haven't chosen your learning or need help finding a course or appropriate childcare, you can send in an Enquiry Registration form. These can be found at the back of the Care to Learn booklets, available at learning providers or by ringing 0800 121 8989. The Care to Learn team will then send you a letter with the name of someone who will be able to help you. They will be able to give you help and advice, and talk through any ideas you have for learning or childcare. You can also ring the helpline at any time if you have any problems or questions.
Once you have sent in your full Care to Learn application form, the team should let you know within five working days whether your application has been approved. Receiving money from Care to Learn will not affect your benefits or allowances and you do not have to be on benefits in order to apply.
You can search for approved, registered childcare near you, or call the Family Information Service on 023 8083 3014.
If you are under 18 and either pregnant or with a baby
You can get help to purchase plain frozen fruit and vegetables, milk, fresh fruit and vegetables or infant formula milk from registered shops (most supermarkets have signed up) with Healthy Start Vouchers. Registered shops will display a red and green window sticker saying 'Healthy Start Vouchers Welcome Here'. NHS Clinics will not be able to accept them.
You would qualify for Healthy Start if:
- You are pregnant and under 18 years old
- You are pregnant and have a child under four years old AND you get Income Support, income based Jobseeker's Allowance or Child Tax Credit (not Working Tax Credit, unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only) and have an annual income of below £16,190
Healthy Start vouchers are worth £3.10 a week if you are pregnant, £6.20 a week for each baby aged under one and £3.10 for each child aged over one and under four.
In Southampton, Healthy Start also provides free vitamins for all expectant mums and tots.
New applicants will need to complete the Healthy Start application form (and professionals need to complete Part B of that form for/with them).
To see what other benefits and tax credits you might be entitled to try Gingerbread's calculator.