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 this 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.

Places are available at:

  • daycare nurseries
  • pre-schools
  • 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. They 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. The maximum number of hours is 10. The earliest start time is 7.00am and the latest finish is 7.00pm.

You can use your hours with two providers. However, you must inform both providers that you are doing this. You must 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, for a registration fee, deposit or 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. This should include your childs agreed funded hours and times of attendance.

We will 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.

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