Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) requirements for providers

Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) requirements for providers

Information on the requirements to become a HAF provider.

Requirements for providers

We verify eligibility of all HAF children when they sign up to the family portal and we are working to verify all children that take part in HAF.

The simplest way for providers to verify FSM status is to ask parents to sign up through the HAF Portal, register their children and we will verify status. Once verified, children can be instant booked on to any of our HAF activities.

For providers using their own booking systems, this process is slightly different and you will need the verification code generated on sign up. 

For open access groups, please discuss requirements with us:

Ofsted registration

Holiday clubs may need to legally register with Ofsted depending on the provision they offer, they may also be eligible to register with Ofsted on the voluntary register or they may be exempt from registration entirely. Both clubs and providers that would require registration with Ofsted, and those that are exempt, can participate in the HAF programme.

To support the raising of quality and to better meet the safeguarding needs of children and young people, certain providers can choose to register with Ofsted even if they do not have to.

One of the direct benefits to children and families of providers being Ofsted registered is that families may be eligible for tax free childcare or the childcare costs element of Universal Credit. Through this families may be able to claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs if they are attending and paying for extra childcare at Ofsted registered settings.

It is the responsibility of individual HAF providers to understand whether they are required by law to be Ofsted registered and to continue to review their status as and when the provision they are offering changes.

We expect local authorities to check with all their HAF providers that they are appropriately registered, particularly those providers who may have amended their childcare offer during the holidays because of the HAF programme.


Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. We want every HAF club to be a safe and happy place for children, and for parents, carers and families to feel confident that their child is well looked after and that robust safeguarding arrangements are in place.

Local authorities are statutorily responsible for safeguarding in relation to children in need, under statute 17 of the Children Act 1989, and looked after children under statute 20 of the Children Act 1989.

As set out in working together to safeguard children, safeguarding is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action if you identify children to be at risk of harm

Everyone working on the delivery of the HAF programme should be familiar with the working together to safeguard children guidance.

We offer free safeguarding training through WCC and regularly assess and maintain safeguarding standards. Funding is available to further support safeguarding training.

Volunteers and DBS checking

We know that in some settings, volunteers can play an important role in the delivery of holiday clubs.

Under no circumstances should a volunteer in respect of whom no checks have been obtained be left unsupervised or allowed to work in regulated activity.

For some of the voluntary staff involved in the delivery of the holiday, activities and food programme in holiday clubs, this work will be done regularly and considered to be regulated activity. This means they will be subject to an enhanced DBS check with barred list information.

There may be a very small number of volunteers who do not regularly carry out this role, and so it may not be considered as regulated activity. This means they may not be required to have an enhanced DBS check.

The guidance on regulated activity in relation to children contains definitions of what we mean by regular and regulated activity.


A guest speaker or presenter visits a holiday, activities and food programme club to deliver a talk on nature.

The guest is escorted by staff at the club (who are DBS checked) while on the premises and is not left unsupervised with children at any time. In these circumstances, we would not expect a DBS check to be carried out.

To provide reassurance to parents, families and carers, we strongly recommend that all volunteers who are involved in the delivery of the holiday, activities and food programme in holiday clubs should have an enhanced DBS check (which, where applicable, should include children’s barred list information).

We do not recommend holiday clubs using volunteers that are not DBS checked, but if this occurs, it is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that volunteers are not at any point left alone and unsupervised with children in holiday clubs.

Other workers

All staff who are employed by holiday club providers funded through the holiday, activities and food programme should be subject to an enhanced DBS check with barred list information.

Part 3 of keeping children safe in education sets out a clear process for safe recruitment. We recommend local authorities and holiday cubs providers follow this best practice when recruiting volunteers.

Environment and sustainability

DfE is committed to sustainable development practices and believes it is important for local authorities to consider these and their impact on the environment. We strongly encourage local authorities to make their own judgements on how sustainable development can be reflected in their ethos, day-to-day operations and throughout the delivery of their HAF programmes.

Some practices that local authorities may wish to consider are:

  • minimising the use of single-use plastics
  • where possible using locally sourced food and ingredients
  • making use of food surplus organisations
  • ensuring there is a wide range of recycling and compost facilities for waste
  • growing fruit and vegetables and showing how they can be used and cooked.
  • encouraging uniform banks and exchange schemes

This list is not exhaustive and local authorities are encouraged to reflect on their settings and consider ways that their programmes can be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.


As part of the HAF programme in Leeds in 2021, Zero Waste Leeds ran a school uniform exchange scheme. The aim of this was to make it easy to share good quality, used school uniform and preventing it from going to landfill.

With clothing production having a sizeable carbon impact, Zero Waste Leeds found that they could reduce their environmental footprint by sharing uniform so that it is worn for longer and demand is reduced for new uniforms. Schemes such as this can also assist those families who might need help with the cost of new uniforms.

Policy and insurance checklist

  • 2023 Safeguarding Policy
  • DSL Certificates, name and contact details for DSL.
  • Proof of L2 safeguarding training for staff
  • Advanced DBS checks for all staff and volunteers
  • Single central record 
  • Food handling and hygiene certificates where required
  • Food hygiene rating for any external catering partners
  • 2023 Insurance policies
  • 2023 Privacy Policy
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