Entitlement to early education funding

All children are eligible to receive funded early education from the term following their third birthday until they start school. The date three and four year old funding eligibility starts depends on your child’s birthday.

 Child's third birthday  When you can claim three and four year old funding
 1 January - 31 March  The beginning of term on or after 01 April
 1 April - 31 August  The beginning of term on or after 01 September
 1 September - 31 December​ The beginning of term on or after 01 January

To arrange funding you need to contact a provider directly to ask about using three and four year old funding with them. 

Places are available at:

  • Daycare nurseries
  • Preschools
  • Maintained nurseries (in schools)
  • Some childminders (ask your childminder if they offer funded sessions)

Your child will be entitled to up to 570 hours of early education funding per year. This is often taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year during term time. Individual providers offer different levels of flexibility and will be able to advise you about the services they offer. Some daycare providers, for example, can ‘stretch’ the funded hours over school holidays. In all cases the minimum number of hours allowed in an early education session is 2.5 hours and the maximum 10 hours, the earliest start is 7.00am and the latest finish 7.00pm.

You can use your hours with two providers, but you must inform both providers that you are doing this and not claim more than the maximum number of hours per year in total.

Providers cannot make additional charges for attendance at early education sessions, for example a registration fee, deposit or for uniform. However, if your child attends over a meal time a provider can make a charge for a meal. You will be asked by your chosen provider to sign a parental contract which includes agreeing your child’s funded hours and that your child will attend regularly.

The council must advise the Department for Education of the name, address and date of birth of the children who receive this funding. Parents should receive a privacy notice from their early education provider to inform them of this.

Further information

Please see the Family Information Service for further guidance about choosing registered childcare and to find a list of providers in your area.

Last updated: 03 November 2015. Was this information helpful?

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