Early Education Funding For Three And Four Year Olds

Help to pay childcare costs, paid directly to your childcare provider

Early Education Funding is available for all three and four year olds and some two year olds. This funding can help pay your fees for childcare at local pre-schools, day nurseries or registered childminders. It is paid directly to the childcare provider by the Early Years Service. 

The government funding covers up to 15 hours of high-quality childcare. Your childcare provider may still charge for meals, snacks and consumables, such as nappies or sun cream. They may also charge for additional specialist services, clubs and trips. 

Working parents, with three or four year olds, may be able to claim up to
30 hours funded childcare a week. 

How to claim funding

  • Your childcare provider will give you a ‘Parent Declaration Form’ to complete and return to them
  • Your childcare provider claims Early Years Funding on behalf of your child

What you can claim

  • 570 hours of early education per year
  • Up to 15 hours of funding within any one week
  • Maximum of 10 hours in any single day

If your childcare provider is open for more than 38 weeks (term time) per year, you may be able to spread your funded hours over the whole year. This means that you will be claiming less than the 15 hours per week but for more weeks of the year. This is referred to as the ‘stretched offer’.

Funding can be split between a maximum of two childcare providers in a single day.

When can I start to claim funding if my child is eligible?

Funding can start from the term following the child's 3rd birthday

Child's Birthday

When Funding Can Start

1 January - 31 March

summer term

1 April - 31 August

autumn term

1 September - 31 December

spring term

All 3 and 4-year-old children are entitled to up to 6 terms of Early Education Funding, commencing in the term following their third birthday.

Parents can negotiate to access this entitlement, which amounts to up to 570 hours each year, flexibly.

Some two year olds have a similar annual entitlement and those families who meet the new '30 hour' childcare offer can increase this entitlement for their three and four year olds to 1140 hours. This too can be accessed flexibly.

Children due to start school in September

Early Education Funding ceases on 1 September when a child enters the reception class of a school or academy.

Schools receive funding from 1 September and are legally obliged to provide an education for children from the first day of term.  Although, the school are free to make other arrangements with the parents’ consent.

For example, some schools operate a phased entry where children’s first day may start after their enrolment at the school. The Local Authority will not award Early Education Funding for a phased entry period, therefore, any issues regarding phased entry must be directed to the school.   

Parents who choose to access a childcare place for the periods of time their child is not in school, will need to pay the full costs of that place to their childcare provider. This is because their child’s entire funding entitlement for a full-time place is being received directly by the school or academy.

What you pay

You have to pay for any hours your child attends over and above the number of funded hours per week.

Additional services such as meals, snacks, drinks and trips, and extra activities such as music and dance etc are not covered by early education funding, and the childcare provider may charge you for these.

At the beginning of each new term, the childcare provider should tell you about any charges that may be incurred. 

If your child attends a childcare provider outside of your local authority area the funding will be paid by the local authority where your child attends. 

Moving childcare provider 

You can move your child from one childcare provider to another, as long as you give the original childcare provider their required amount of notice (please check your contract). If you are unable to do so then this may affect the early education funding at a new childcare setting.

Non attendance 

If children don't attend their early education places regularly, funding may be withdrawn.