Early Education Funding for Three & Four Year Olds

The Government provides money for Early Education Funding (EEF)

Early Education Funding ensures that all three and four year olds benefit from quality early years education. 

Free early education or childcare places are available at a range of early years settings, such as day nurseries, pre-schools, nursery schools and registered childminders. The type of childcare setting that your child attends is entirely up to you.

Your child will become eligible to claim funding from the term following their third birthday: 

 Child's birthday When funding can start
 1 January to 31 March 1 April (summer term)
1 April to 31 August  1 September (autumn term)
1 September to 31 December  1 January (spring term)
  • Children born in the period 1st January to 31st March: 1st April following the child's third birthday
  • Children born in the period 1st April to 31st August: 1st September following child's third birthday
  • Children born in the period 1st September to 31st December: 1st January following the child's third birthday

Free Early Education Facts

  • Children can have up to 570 hours of early education per year.  This can be up to 15 hours within a week with a maximum of 10 hours taken in any one day. 
  • The funding can be split in different ways, for example, you could claim three hours a day over five days or five hours a day over three days. 
  • If your childcare setting is open all year round, you may be able to spread your funded hours over the whole year.  For example, you could claim 11 hours per week for 51 weeks of the year. 
  • If your childcare setting is available in term-time only, you could claim 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.
  • The funding can be divided between a maximum of two childcare settings.
  • Some two year olds are also able to claim up to 15 hours a week of early education funding through the Two's Too scheme.

For further information on early education funding and for help finding local childcare, please contact the Children's Information Service.

Read our privacy notice to find out what happens to your information when you claim Early Education Funding.

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