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Free childcare for 2-4 year olds

All 3 to 4 year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare per year. This is called 'Nursery Education Funding’ (NEF) or ‘Free Early Education Entitlement’ (FEEE) and is usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Some 2-year-olds whose families are on low incomes, or if the child is in care or has special needs, are also eligible.

From September 2017 parents of all three and four year olds will be able to claim a further 15hours of free chilcare totalling 30hours free childcare for 38weeks per year.

For more information visit https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Free early education for 3 & 4 year olds

Eligibility
You can claim free childcare from the school term after your child turns three until they turn five or start Reception.

This means a child born between:

  • 1 September and 31 December is eligible from 1 January
  • 1 January and 31 March is eligible from 1 April
  • 1 April and 31 August is eligible from 1 September

All children are eligible for NEF regardless of family income.

Where can I get the 3 & 4 year old entitlement?

You can take up the NEF at any approved childcare provider: one that is Ofsted registered for early learning and childcare, and approved by the local authority to offer the NEF. These include:

  • nurseries
  • childminders
  • out-of-school clubs (breakfast and after school)

You can find a full, up-to-date list of approved childcare providers in the City of London on the FYi  Directory

Do I need to apply for the funding?

You do not need to apply for the NEF/FEEE.
Your chosen childcare provider will claim the funding on your behalf directly from the local authority.

The following rules apply:

  • You must use  an approved childcare provider
  • You must take the 15 hours over a minimum of two days
  • The childcare provider must look after your child for a minimum of two hours per day

You should discuss with the provider how they will spread the free hours over the week. Some may offer specific packages while others may be flexible to your requirements.

Free early education for 2 year olds

Families of eligible two year olds can claim free childcare from the start of the school term following their second birthday until the start of the school term following their third birthday.

To qualify for the scheme families must be receiving any of these:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (if you are unable to work due to illness or disability)
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Working Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Or the child must

  • Be receiving Disability Living Allowance
  • Have a current statement of special educational need or an Education, Health and Care plan
  • Have left care through special guardianship, adoption or residence order

Where can I get the free entitlement for 2 year olds

You can take up the offer at any participating childcare provider, including those in other local authority areas.

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Rules and restrictions

  • You must use an approved childcare provider
  • The 15 hours must be taken over a minimum of two days
  • The childcare provider must look after your child for a minimum of 2 hours per day.

You should discuss with each provider that you contact how they will spread the free hours over the week. Some may offer specific packages while others may be flexible to your requirements

Please note: You will be charged for any additional hours of childcare you take over 15 hours.

Free 30hours childcare

From September 2017 the free early education entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds across the England will be increased from 15 hours to 30 hours per week for working families. This is to support parents who are working, who wish to work or intend to increase their working hours to improve their family's economic well-being. The entitlement could be offered term-time or stretched across the year to suit families' needs.

Follow this link for more information - 30 hours free childcare

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