Introduction

We will fund part-time early years entitlement places for three and four year olds starting from the funding period after the child’s third birthday. This is called the universal entitlement. Two year olds who meet the eligibility criteria can also access funding. For more information about the criteria for 2 year olds, please see our Funding for 2 year olds page.

Some working parents are entitled to an extra 15 hours per week early education and childcare for their 3 and 4 year old child on top of the current offer. This is called the extended entitlement. For more information on the eligibility criteria, please see our 30 hours funded childcare page.

The Early Years Entitlement can be claimed at:

  • a day nursery
  • a pre-school or playgroup
  • an independent school
  • a children’s centre nursery
  • a maintained nursery
  • a reception class in a primary or infant school
  • a foundation stage unit and academy
  • with an approved childminder

The provider must agree to abide by the terms and conditions in the Somerset Local Provider Agreement to offer the early years entitlement.

Applying for the funding

Children who are 4 between 1 September and 31 December will be able to claim up to a maximum of 380 hours from 1 January to 31 August. Children who are 4 between 1 January and 31 March will be able to claim up to a maximum of 237.5 hours from 1 April to 31 August. If the child doesn’t then go to a maintained, academy or free school from the following September, then any remaining hours from the 570 will be available to use.

The parents’ and carers’ chosen provider will claim on their behalf and we will pay the money directly to the provider. Parents and carers must check with their provider that they are registered to offer the Early Years Entitlement.

From each provider, we will require you to send us:

  • a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport with a signed Child Registration Form
  • a completed and signed Parent’s Declaration Form to claim the funding

These will be submitted by the provider. If a birth certificate or passport is not available from the parent or carer, other forms of legal documentation may be accepted. Please contact the Entitlements Team for clarification. If these documents are not submitted, the Early Years Entitlement will not be paid and the parent may be charged for the hours their child has accessed.

Registering for the Early Years Entitlement

Who is eligible?

  • Providers must be on either the Ofsted Early Years Register, Ofsted Schools Register or inspected under the Independent Schools Inspectorate and follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) learning and development and welfare requirements;
  • Wraparound care provision must meet welfare requirements for the EYFS and have due regard to the learning and development requirements;
  • Eligibility is based on your Ofsted outcome. This means that if you have an “inadequate” outcome, you will not be eligible to offer the Early Years Entitlement;
  • The provider must be rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ to offer Funding for eligible 2 year olds. If the provider has not yet been inspected by Ofsted, then it will be registered for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Full details listing all the requirements for a provider offering the Early Years Entitlement can be found in the Somerset Local Provider Agreement. Any setting wishing to offer the Entitlement must read this before completing an application form.

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Please note, if you are a childminder you cannot claim funding for any child that is related to you. Funded children must not be left under the care of an assistant or a childminder that is not registered to offer the entitlement for any funded hours.

How to register

Providers wishing to register with Somerset County Council to offer the Early Years Entitlement, including Funding for 2 year olds and 30 hours, need to:

  • Read the terms and conditions relating to Early Years Entitlement in the Somerset Local Provider Agreement;
  • Complete the application form below;
  • Attach a copy of your most recent fees policy and Ofsted certificate;
  • Childminders registered with a Childminder Agency must include a signed statement from the Agency that endorses the application. They must also be able to confirm that the Childminder’s practice is of the quality required to deliver the entitlements.

To complete this form you will need

  • A digital copy of your Ofsted certificate
  • A digital copy of your fees policy

The form has 5 pages and will take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Schools

If a state school transfers to become an academy, or a school setting that is run under ‘Community Governance’ lowers the age range of the school and decides to put the nursery pupils on the roll of the school, this is classed as a new provision. Therefore, a new application form will need to be completed and returned.  It is very important that Somerset County Council are informed of this change at least a month before the transfer takes place.

What happens next

  • Once the completed application form and all the supporting documents are received, it will be assessed and the setting will be notified of the outcome.
  • Funding will only be available from the date in the acceptance letter and will not be backdated.
  • All entitlement claims are submitted through an electronic system. The log-on details will be sent through to enable claims to be received and submitted. Log-on details must never be shared with anyone else.

If you need help with any area of the application or more information, please contact the Entitlements Team on 01823 357039. If they can’t help, they will arrange for the appropriate person to contact you.

When children qualify for the Early Years Entitlement

A child will become eligible for the Early Years Entitlement in the funding period after the child’s third birthday. If the child qualifies for Funding for 2 year olds, then funding will be available from the date stated on the parents and carers acceptance letter.

The funding periods are:
Autumn – 1 September to 31 December
Spring – 1 January to 31 March
Summer – 1 April to 31 August

This is a guide if a child is about to access the funding for the first time, it is broken down into funding periods and birthdays:

  • If the child is born between 1 April and 31 August, funding can be claimed from 1 September – autumn funding period
  • If the child is born between 1 September and 31 December, funding can be claimed from 1 January – spring funding period
  • If the child is born between 1 January and 31 March, funding can be claimed from 1 April – summer funding period

How much the funding is worth

Funding is paid directly to the provider for the hours claimed. The rate of pay per hour is explained in the breakdown of your Early Years Single Funding Formula which you are sent yearly.

Charging for extras

Providers are entitled to charge parents and carers for any hours accessed over the Early Years Entitlement and for additional services, such as food. However, this must be made clear to the parents and carers in advance, as well as being clearly defined on the bill. Please refer to your prospectus or fees policy showing how fees are charged.

When a child attends more than one provider

Parents and carers can claim at a maximum of three providers that their child attends at any one time. The total universal hours claimed at the three providers cannot exceed 15 per week combined or the 570 over the year.

If the total hours claimed exceeds the maximum entitlement or 15 hours per week, the universal entitlement will be apportioned between the three providers on a pro-rata basis. Therefore, in the event of an overclaim, parents do not have the right to choose which provider is funded through the entitlement for that funding period.

Carrying forward any unused hours

In each entitlement year, hours can be carried forward from one funding period to the next. If the child attends less than the maximum number of hours per week, children may be able to use the hours in the following funding period up to the maximum of 15 per week.

However, children cannot carry hours over from one entitlement year to the next. Any unused hours will be lost.

When a child starts school part-time

Some schools run a staggered entry system for their new children. This means that the child will only attend school on a part-time basis to start with (the child may not start attending full-time until half term). In this situation, a lot of children will continue to go to pre-school until the school takes them full time.

Once a child is attending school, even if it is only for a few hours per week to start with, the Early Years Entitlement will not be available to claim by any provider. Therefore, parents and carers will have to pay the providers for any hours that the child attends once they have started school or if their name appears on the school roll or register.

Deferred entry

The Department for Education (DfE) requires all Admission Authorities to offer parents the opportunity to defer their child’s entry to school. This means rather than the usual September entry, parents and carers can choose for their child to start later in the year. This is usually in January, at the beginning of the Spring Term but they can defer until later in the year if they wish.

More information

If you would like additional information about the Early Years Entitlement, then please phone the Entitlements Team on 01823 357039 or email eyfunding@somerset.gov.uk.

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Please note: The Change of Address Form must be completed if a child has recently moved to a new address. It is important that this is completed otherwise the address held for the child by us will be incorrect and the starting school information could be sent to the wrong address.

Shared Foundation Partnership – Film clip, created by City of York Council, about the benefits of partnership working where childcare providers are working with feeder schools to promote the entitlement.

Last reviewed:September 16, 2022 byPaul

Next review due:March 16, 2023

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