MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT EARLY EDUCATION FUNDING
For new parents especially, Early Education and Childcare is a minefield ….. what’s the difference between a Playgroup, Pre-School, Day Nursery, Childminder, School Nursery – the list is seemingly endless and then there is the further confusion about “Funded Early Education” (as providers we don’t use the “free” word but that’s for another post, another day) – I am writing this to try and give you a little more information about funding, so here goes. Perhaps, if parents are interested, I could give further information about different types of provider ……
What is Early Education funding?
There are 3 different funding streams:
- - 2 year funding
- - 3 and 4 year old universal funding
- - 30 hour funding (for 3 & 4 year olds)
- - Funding is available for 38 weeks of the year only, not the full year. Some providers will “stretch” it across the year, but you then are entitled to less hours per week.
- - Most settings will have a limited amount of 2; 3 & 4 and 30 hour funded places – do not take it for granted that you will be able to get the full amount of hours at your first choice setting – lots will also charge for snack, meals and consumables (as these things aren’t covered under the funding).
- - Funding is from the TERM AFTER the child turns 2 or 3 (unfortunately for those born in April, the Spring term finishes on 31st March regardless of when Easter falls so children born in April won’t be eligible until September).
When can I get the funding?
3 and 4 year old
- - All families with a child of 3 & 4 are entitled to the universal 15 hour funding
- - Available from the term after the child turns 3 (see above re Summer born children)
- - Your provider will organise the funding for you – you will need to sign a declaration and provide evidence of yours child’s date of birth.
- - Funding can be split between providers i.e. Pre-School and Childminder
2 year funding
- - For families on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits
- - Available for up to 15 hours from the term after the child turns 2.
- - Household income needs to be below approximately £16,000 depending on what benefits you are receiving.
- - More information and eligibility will be found on your local Council website (or you may be sent a letter informing you of your eligibility).
- - You will need to apply and then provide the code to your chosen provider before a place can be confirmed.
30 hour funding
- - All adults/parents in the household need to be working and must each earn between the equivalent of 16 hours at NMW and under £100,000 per year.
- - Parents have to apply online through www.gov.uk, a code will be given if successful and this needs to be given to your chosen provider.
- - Most providers will have a limited amount of 30 hour spaces available so it isn’t a guarantee that you will be able to use your code with your chosen setting
- - The hours can be split between settings.
- - The code needs to be renewed by parents every 3 months to ensure continued eligibility.
- - 30 hour funding is made up of 15 hours “universal” and 15 hours “30 hour funding”, it is not 30 hours on top of the universal 15 hours.
A word of warning, when you put your details into the www.gov.uk site, this can cause any benefits that you are on to be stopped or changed so do your research before you submit any of your details and apply for a 2 year old place through your local Council website NOT www.gov.uk.
Tax Free Voucher Schemes
- - There are tax free voucher schemes available where (once again if you meet criteria), you can put money into a scheme before paying tax and then allocate the money to pay the provider (that way you are saving 20% tax) – this is being rolled out to allow you to pay for childcare for after school clubs as well once your child is in school.
- - Some employers provide Tax Free Childcare – speak to your employer to see if you are eligible.
- - More information again can be found by searching on the web and you will need to speak to individual providers to discuss whether they accept voucher payments.
I hope you have found this brief outline of Early Education Funding helpful – most providers will discuss and advise you or else you can ring your local Family Centre.
Early Years Manager
Thorley Pre-School (OFSTED Outstanding Pre-School in Bishop’s Stortford)