Setting them off on the right course

Funding for Two, Three and Four Year Olds

What is the Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) funding?

FEEE was introduced in 2010 to give 15hrs per week of free early years education to all 3 and 4 year olds for 38 weeks/year.  This is known as Universal funding and if you have a 3 or 4 year old you will be eligible for this.  In 2017 the Government extended the 3-4yr funding for working parents offering an additional 15 hours referred to as Extended funding or, more commonly, 30hrs funding.  All funding is managed by local authorities i.e. Essex County Council.

The funding has to be claimed each term.  3-4yr funding can be shared across 2 providers.  Funding is not given for the holiday periods but providers are allowed to “stretch” the funding and if your child attends Little Darwins all year around your funding can be allocated over the whole year so your invoices are more even than they would be if funding were allocated only for term-time weeks/months.

Children become eligible to receive the funding starting the term after their birthday as follows:

If their birthday is between:

They get FEEE from

1st January – 31st March

1st April i.e. Summer term

1st April – 31st August

1st September i.e. Autumn term

1st September – 31st December

1st January i.e. Spring term

All funding ends for a child when they start School so the Summer term just prior to that is their last funded term.

Parents/ Carers need to present their child’s birth certificate to the provider, i.e. Little Darwins Nursery to confirm their eligibility for the FEEE. Essex County Council may ask to see evidence that the provider has checked birth certificates therefore providers are recommended to make a note of the number to confirm that this has been seen.  

2 year funding eligibility

Although 15hrs of funding for 2yr olds is due to become Universal from April 2024, the following circumstances may mean you're already eligible.  

Income Support - income-based Job Seekers Allowance - income-related Employment and Support Allowance - Universal Credit (income dependent) - Child Tax Credits (income dependent) - Pension Credit - Extra Working Tax Credits

See also the Childcarechoices site.  Please do not hesitate to speak to the Manager or the Office. 

Applications for 2yr funding need to be made via the Essex County Council website - follow this link  Essex County Council Help with Childcare costs

Extended (30hr) funding eligibility

Parents/carers can check their eligibility and register for 30hrs funding via - follow this link   Get 30 hours free childcare: step by step

Parents/Carers will periodically need to refresh their claim for extended funding and will have to provide the applicant's NI number to Little Darwins to confirm the application on the Essex County Council funding portal.

Guide to help with Childcare Costs

The Government supports all parents with childcare costs in various way ranging from tax free childcare and free hours in a childcare setting for 2-, 3- and 4-year olds, to tax credits and universal credits or help while you study.

The following link to the Government’s Childcare Choices page has all the details and links for making claims:

Childcarechoices - Help paying for your childcare


Training Days - Term-time only children 

Nursery will be closed to children who are fully funded on these days i.e. 9am-3pm, morning or afternoon session.  However, if you are funded for only part of any of the training days then your child can attend nursery as usual. 

Extract from ECC FEEE Handbook:

Training Days

Early years childcare providers can claim FEEE for up to 1 day per term when they are open in order to carry out staff training.  The provider should make parents aware before they sign the parent/carer agreement that they will lose a day of FEEE per term and will not receive any refund for this day as there is no cash value to the FEEE funding.  Providers should also give a minimum of a half term's notice of any planned closures.

Please note:

Termly Parent Agreement Forms for any funding MUST be submitted at the beginning of each term to secure funding or full fees are due.

If you have any queries about funding please speak to the Manager, the Deputy or the Office

Early Years Pupil Premium

The Early Years Pupil Premium provides an extra 62 pence per hour for three and four year old children whose parents are in receipt of certain benefits or who were formally in local authority care but who left care because they were adopted or were subject to a special guardianship or child arrangements order. This means an extra £302 a year for each child taking up the full 570 hours funded entitlement to early education. This additional money could make a significant difference.

We can use the extra funding in any way we choose to improve the quality of the early years education that we provide for your child. This could include more resources, additional training for our staff on early language, investing in partnership working with our colleagues in the area to further our expertise or supporting our staff in working on specialised areas such as speech and language.

It is well documented that high quality early education influences how well a child does at both primary and secondary school so we do want to make the most of this additional funding. You may be aware if you have older children that a pupil premium has been available for school age children and it has proved to have given a real boost to the children receiving the funding. We want to do the same for our early years children entitled to this funding.

If you think you may be entitled to this please complete the information on your Free Early Education Entitlement Parent Declaration form each term.  If you have any questions please feel free to speak to Lucy, Steph or Lorraine and rest assured of complete confidentiality.