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Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Free childcare for two year olds

A number of children may be eligible for 2 year old funding for free places at Pre-school or Day Nursery. Childhood Support Services would like to promote the take up of free early education for two year olds. You can drop-in to any of the Hitchin and Rural Children Centres and we would be happy to support you in your application. You can check if you can receive funding by going onto the eligibility checker. Try the link below.

The link to use is www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/parents 

 

Family Services Commissioning (FSC) has created a new contact email address for parents who have queries regarding their free early education and childcare entitlement. Their new email is childcare@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Two year old free early education – myth busting

If an eligible families circumstances change, they may no longer be entitled to two year old funding 

Myth - If a family is eligible when they apply, they remain eligible regardless of any change in circumstances

 

Settings are allowed to charge parents ‘up front’ and then refund them when they are paid by the local authority

Myth – There should be no charge at all to parents who are only accessing the free entitlement

 

Settings can charge for extra activities such as ballet or French

 

Fact – Settings can charge for any additional activities they offer BUT families should not have to take up the additional activity as a condition of having a place

Any provider can offer free places for two year olds

 

Myth – Providers must have a good or outstanding Ofsted grade in order to offer 2 year old places

Families are entitled to a free two year old place if the parent is in receipt of disability living allowance

Myth – Families are entitled to a free 2 year old place if the CHILD is in receipt of disability living allowance

 

An eligible reference number expires after a certain period of time

Myth – A reference number is valid from when you apply until the term after your child’s third birthday

A child has to attend a setting for 15 hours a week



 

Myth – the family should be offered 15 hours a week but can take less should they choose to

 

A setting will be able to tell a family if they are eligible

 

Myth – Families must make an application which will then initiate an eligibility check

 

A child cannot start to access their entitlement after headcount week

Myth – A child can start at any point in the term as long as they are in the correct age range

Parents cannot access a place for their 2 year old in a different local authority

Myth – If a family are eligible they should be able to access the free entitlement wherever they choose

Parents cannot change setting mid term





 

Myth – A parent can move their child to another setting mid-term.  The original setting and the new one will need to record this in adjustment week. NB the parent will need to be aware of the settings notice policy

If a child is entitled to two year old funding they will automatically qualify for early years pupil premium (EYPP)

Myth – Many children who are eligible for 2 year old funding are eligible for EYPP but there are some criteria that are different

 

 

Free early education and childcare for three and four year olds

All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education for 38 weeks of the year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday). Free early education places are available at a range of early years settings including nursery schools and classes, day nurseries, play groups, pre-schools and childminders.

When can I get a free childcare place?

A child born in the period 

Will become eligible for a free place

1 April to 31 August

the start of term beginning on or following 1 September after the child's third birthday

1 September to 31 December

the start of term beginning on or following 1 January after the child's third birthday

1 January to 31 March

the start of term beginning on or following 1 April after the child's third birthday 

 

The 15 hours free early education entitlement can be taken flexibly, at up to two providers within the following limits:

  • the full 15 hours have to be taken over at least two days per week and a maximum of five days per week

  • a minimum of two and a half hours can be taken in one day

  • a maximum of ten hours can be taken in one day

For example, your child could have nine hours at a nursery class and six hours with a pre-school, day nursery, childminder or independent school over the course of two days or more, if both settings agree.

You can find providers offering free places by using the childcare directory. You can also check the Ofsted website for any inspection results.

 If you would like to apply for a school nursery place, you can find out more on HertsDirect nursery admissions pages.

You can drop-in to any of the Hitchin and Rural Children Centres and we would be happy to support you in your application.