Early education funding for two, three and four-year-olds

Frequently asked questions

When can a child access a funded place?

  • 2 year olds: eligible children are funded from the start of the following term after their second birthday until they are eligible for 3 and 4 year old funding. 
  • 3 and 4 year olds: are funded from the start of the following term after their third birthday, all children are entitled to up to six terms of funded early education before reaching statutory school age (the first term following their fifth birthday). 
  • Depending on local arrangements for admission to school, many children start full time education in school reception classes before reaching compulsory school age. 
  • The start date of each term is:
    • Autumn term - 1 September
    • Spring term - 1 January
    • Summer term - 1 April

What is the minimum funded early education entitlement?

  • The 2 year old and 3 and 4 year old universal funded entitlement is for up to 570 hours per year delivered over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year (equating to 15 hours a week).
  • The 3 and 4 year olds extended entitlement with a 30 hour code is up to an additional 570 hours per year delivered over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year (equating to 15 hours a week).
  • If both the universal and extended hours are used, the entitlements are up to 1140 hours funding per year delivered over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year (equating to 30 hours a week).
  • The funded entitlement is a guarantee of a funded place, but it does not offer a guarantee of a place at any one specific provider or a particular pattern of provision.
  • Parents may need to contact more than one provider to obtain the offer that meets their particular circumstances.

What if providers are not open for the full 38 weeks?

  • A parent can choose a provider that is open for fewer than 38 weeks of the year and receive 15 or 30 hours per week during fewer weeks.
  • The funded entitlement hours cannot be compressed i.e. a parent cannot take more than 15 or 30 hours per week over fewer than 38 weeks of the year.

Does it matter which Local Authority the child is resident in?

  • All Local Authorities have a duty to provide sufficient early education places for three and four year olds.
  • Local Authorities receive funding for the number of children attending funded early education places within their area, regardless of where the children live. 
  • No child should be refused a funded place based on where they live and the Local Authority in whose area the setting is situated will receive and administer the funding.

Will parents be expected to make a financial contribution towards their child’s funded early education place?

  • Parents cannot be required to contribute to the cost of the basic funded entitlement but may be charged fees for meals, other consumables, additional hours or additional services. Charges for consumables or meals relating to the funded place must be voluntary.
  • Parents should be made aware of these charges in advance of their child taking up a funded place.
  • Providers must not levy any fee in respect of the funded entitlement nor should they charge parents fees in advance for their entitlement to be refunded later (other than a deposit to reserve a place, which must be refunded within a reasonable time scale, as advised in 2.8 and 3.7 sections within the Guidance & Requirements of Early Education Funding for 2, 3 & 4 year olds).
  • All invoices for parents must clearly show the number of funded hours they have received completely free, and how the charges have been calculated for any additional hours/services that the parent has agreed to pay for over and above the funded entitlement.

Do parents have a right to a place with a particular provider?

  • The right to a funded early education place is for a funded place in the local area, not the right to a funded place with a particular provider or for a specific session. 

What happens to the 3 and 4 year old funding if a child moves from one provider to another during a term?

  • Normally the setting where the child is attending during headcount week receives the funding for the whole of the term.
  • Adjustments to payments for Funding will only be made in exceptional circumstances as outlined in Section 2.6 of the Guidance and Requirements of Early Education Funding for 2, 3 & 4 year olds.
  • Providers should use Parent/Guardian Declaration Forms, which set out the hours and patterns of access to the funded entitlement that the parent and provider have agreed to, usually on a termly basis. 

What happens if a child attends sessions at more than one provider?

  • Parents should detail the hours and pattern of attendance for all settings their child attends on the Parent/Guardian Declaration Form (PDF).
  • Where a child attends two providers and receives in total more than the minimum funded entitlement, if a local agreement cannot be made on how the funding will be allocated, the Local Authority will apportion the amount of funding payable in respect of that child, based on the number of hours accessed at each provision on a pro-rata basis.

Can parents receive 3 & 4 year old funding if their child attends both a School Nursery and PVI provider?

  • The same rules apply to the Maintained Nursery Class or School and PVI sector. Parents should detail the hours and pattern of attendance for all settings their child attends on the Parent/Guardian Declaration Form (PDF).
  • If a child attends two providers and receives in total more than the minimum funded entitlement, if a local agreement cannot be made on how the funding will be allocated, the Local Authority will apportion the amount of funding payable in respect of that child based on the number of funded hours accessed at each provision on a pro-rata basis.

How is funding for the provision of funded places allocated to Local Authorities?

  • Funding is provided through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), which is a ring-fenced grant provided to Local Authorities to fund educational provision in all types of providers. This includes Private, Voluntary and Independent providers offering funded early education.
  • The Warwickshire Schools Forum approves how the DSG is allocated, and the Early Years sector has representatives who sit on this body Local Authorities have a statutory duty to secure sufficient funded places for every three and four year old whose parents want a place and for every eligible 2 year old.
  • Local Authorities are responsible for determining the rate at which providers will be funded for delivering the funded entitlement and the arrangements for making associated payments.
  • The Warwickshire Schools Forum and the EY Funding Working Group approves the level of funding rates for early years’ providers, based on the Department for Education’s guidance. 

For further information and support please contact the Funding Team – eyfunding@warwickshire.gov.uk or childminderfunding@warwickshire.gov.uk