All children are eligible for 3 and 4 year old Early Education Places regardless of income.
When will my child be eligible for an Early Education Place?
Your child will become eligible for an Early Education place from the start of the term after their third birthday for example:
- Children born in the period 1st January to 31st March- can access places from 1st April following their third birthday
- Children born in the period 1st April to 31st August – can access places from 1st September following their third birthday
- Children born in the period 1st September to 31st December can access places from 1st January following their third birthday
Children can access funded places at early years settings that are registered with Ofsted and the Local Authority including Playgroups/Pre schools, Day Nurseries, Independent schools, Nursery classes (please note most have September admissions only) ,Children's Centres and some Childminders. Please note if your child attends a Nursery class this is deemed to be your child's entitlement to funding.
How many hours can I claim?
- You can claim up to 15 hours of Early Education per week. This means that your child is entitled up to 570 hours per year. You may have the choice of taking this over a minimum of 38 weeks and a maximum of 50 or 52 weeks per year, providing the childcare provider can accommodate this flexibility. You can split the 15 hours between a maximum of 2 early years settings
You can request flexibility but the setting does not have to guarantee they will be able to accommodate the request.
How can I access my Early Education Place flexibly?
Your child may be able to access their Early Education Place in more flexible ways as long as the following rules are adhered to:
- No session shorter than 2.5 hours
- No session longer than 10 hours
- Not before 07:00 and not after 19:00
- The 15 hours can be spread across two days
You must agree a set attendance pattern with your provider for the whole funding period. This may be e.g. 3 hours per day (which works out to 15 hours per week) over the number of weeks funded by the Local Authority.
How do I register my child for an Early Education Place?
If you wish to claim a funded place, you will need to visit the early years setting as soon as possible to check whether there is a place available for your child. It is important that you register with your early years setting at the start of the funding period, if you want to claim a funded place. The early years setting will then add your child's details to the claim form to send to the Local Authority on “Count” day.
Do I have a right to a place with a particular childcare provider?
No, eligible children have the right to, or guarantee of a funded 3 and 4 year old place in the city, not a right to a funded place with a particular provider. This will be based on the early year's provider's admissions policy and capacity to accommodate your request.
Can I move my child to another provider?
If you take your child to a different early years setting before the 'count day' (this is usually 3 weeks into the school term), then you will have to pay the early years provider for the hours your child has attended up until that time, as the early years provider will not be able to claim funding from the Local Authority for that period.
If you decide to move your child to a different early years setting after the 'count' date for that funding period has taken place, the funding for that period does not transfer with your child.
A claim may be made at the new early years setting for the following term. The original provider, who made the claim, is entitled to keep the early years funding for the period in which you moved. They may be willing to share it with the new early years setting, but there is no requirement for them to do so, this may result in you being charged for any early year's provision that you may have taken. Please read your agreement /contract that your childcare provider gives to you so that you understand the implications of moving your child to another setting before the headcount day.
How can I get help towards paying for extra hours/services at the early years setting?
If your child is attending the early years setting for more than 15 hours per week because you are at work or in training, you may be able to claim the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, for more details contact HM Revenue and Customs on 0345 300 3900 or visit their website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.
Regular checks of early year's providers are undertaken, to ensure that claims for funding are legitimate. Information on each child is kept on a secure database, which is regularly monitored to ensure that duplicate claims are not being made by two providers for the same child.
It is very important that you inform the early years setting if your child is registered and in receipt of funding at another provider or if your child attends a Local Authority nursery (even part-time).
Will I have to pay anything for my funded place?
The Early Education Place is a free, part time place for all 3 and 4 year old children and must be completely free at the point of delivery. Providers must not therefore impose conditions on you to which you must agree in order to take up their funded hours. You may be able to purchase additional hours at your chosen early years setting, dependent on the setting's admissions policy and if the setting can accommodate your request.
Providers must not, therefore;-
- Charge top up fees in respect of the funded hours (the difference between what a provider normally charges and the funding received from the Local Authority).
- Impose conditions on you that require you to pay for the funded hours up front and be refunded at a later date.
- Charge you a registration, deposit or uniform fees if you are only accessing the Early Education Place
- Require you to purchase lunch as a condition of accessing those hours where the Early Education Place is taken over a lunch period. You must be given the option of providing a packed lunch if this is your preference.
- Your childcare provider must ensure that your bills/invoices are set out clearly so that you can easily recognise and understand what hours you have accessed in relation to the 3 and 4 year old Early Education place and how these fees relate to any additional services or hours that are being charged for.
How do I find out about settings in my area that offer Early Education Places?
Coventry Family Information Service holds up to date information on all early years' settings that are registered for the Nursery Education Entitlement.