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Nursery Education Funding - guide to 15 hours free for all 3 and 4 year olds

Understanding Funding for 3 and 4 Year Olds

Funded free early years places are available for three and four year old children from the term after their 3rd birthday, for up to 15 hours a week.

Child's Birthday                      Funding Entitlement starts

1 January to 31 March              Summer Term (April)
1 April - 31 August                   Autumn Term (September)
1 September - 31 December     Spring Term (January)

Providers must have signed Gloucestershire County Council's Agreement for Early Years Funded Free Entitlement for 2, 3 & 4 year olds and for inclusion to the Directory of Early Years Providers 2014/15, to be able to offer a funded free place to parents.

The following providers who are delivering the EYFS can be included in the local directory:

  • Providers registered with Ofsted as Daycare or Sessional providers (day nursery, playgroup, pre-school, private nursery school, school managed provision) on the Early Years Register
  • Independent schools registered with the Department of Education
  • Non-maintained special schools
  • Childminders
  • Providers who have been granted exemption from Department for Education
  •  

What is the entitlement?

A funded child will be entitled to up to 15 hours a week (570 hours per year) over a minimum of 38 weeks. A provider can agree to stretch the offer over more than 38 weeks, as long as the hours claimed over the year are not more than 570.

We recognise that some providers are not able to open for the full 38 weeks a year and so are not able to offer the full entitlement. Parents can choose a reduced entitlement if they wish as long as the provider informs the parents of the implications of this. Additional hours per week cannot be funded if the provision is open for less than 38 weeks per year e.g. 17.5 hours per week if the setting is open 33 weeks.

The funding paid to the provider will continue as a 38 week offer and any arrangement to stretch the offer is a private matter between the provider and the parent, in accordance with the provider's billing and invoicing policy. The hours and weeks can be stretched at a provider's discretion.

If a child is attending two providers, then the number of funded hours per week cannot exceed 15. The maximum number of hours a child can attend a setting in one day is 10 hours. If a parent chooses to use two settings they can choose which setting(s) they wish the funding to be paid to.

Where children are accessing the free entitlement over the lunch period, any charge a provider makes for lunch must be agreed with parents in advance, and parents must be given the option of providing a packed lunch if this would be more affordable.

Providers must ensure that for each eligible child the funded entitlement is free at the point of delivery. They should not impose conditions on parents to which they must agree in order to take up their funded hours.

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