Questions about free childcare
Below are a selection of frequently asked questions about free early education.
How much is the free early education worth in monetary value?
The entitlement is free hours and has no monetary value to parents or carers.
What is the minimum amount of days I can take Early Education for my three and four year old over?
In line with the 2013 statutory guidance the terms and conditions are as follows:
- 15 hours of free early education each week over a minimum of 2 days
- Over 38 weeks per academic year (September – July)
- Between the hours of 7am and 7pm
- In sessions of at least 2.5 hours
- In sessions no longer than 10 hours, although 6 is seen as best practice
- A maximum of 2 providers working collaboratively
Does the provider have to offer flexible hours?
Not every setting will need to, or be able to deliver flexibility. Where a parent needs a flexible pattern that cannot be delivered by a setting, they must be directed to the Family Information Service who will help them to find a setting that can.
How much is Early Education worth in a tax year so I can fill out my tax credit forms?
Education for three and four year olds is free for 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per academic year. If a parent is accessing additional hours from a provider a charge will be incurred for this wraparound care. The cost of the additional hours will need to be confirmed with the individual childcare provider at the time of registering your child as there is no standard rate.
Are there any additional charges or is Early Education Entitlement for three and four year olds totally free?
Parents of children attending for the Early Education Entitlement hours only should not be charged for any other goods or services, including registration fees, goody bags, snacks etc. Parents should be under no obligation to purchase any additional items that are usually offered, but should be given the choice if they wish to do so. The parents’ choice whether to purchase additional items or services should make no difference to their take up of the free Early Education Entitlement. Parents of children receiving Early Education Entitlement should not be charged extra for goods or services that are provided to children not receiving early Education as part of their fees.
If children are attending additional hours to the Early Education Entitlement, the setting is free to impose any charges that they usually apply, but these must be in line with the charges that the setting would normally charge. They must not be inflated to cover any costs of providing the free early education.
Providers can make a reasonable charge for meals provided to children during the day. However, providers must ensure that they do not place any conditions of access to the entitlement including payment for meals. Providers must ensure that, where children are accessing the free entitlement over the lunch period, any charge that a provider makes for lunch has been agreed with parents in advance, and that parents are given the option of providing a packed lunch if this would be more affordable.
Can my nursery charge me full fees and then reimburse me at the end of term?
Parents should not have to pay up-front for early education hours to be reimbursed at a later date. Once a child is eligible to receive the grant, the offer of free entitlement must be available immediately.
What happens if I take my child out of the setting and take my child to another one?
If you wish to withdraw your child from the setting you must ensure you give adequate notice in line with your provider’s terms and conditions. You should be issued with a copy of these when you register your child.
I want my child to go to a nursery school but their intake isn’t until September. Can I take my child somewhere else beforehand, just for one or two terms?
You can take your child to another setting for just one or two terms prior to them attending nursery school depending on availability. However, we would recommend that you informed the setting of your intention to withdraw your child from the autumn term. This will enable the setting to forward plan their availability.
I want to take my funding over a whole year instead of 38 weeks. Is this possible?
Leicester City Council does not currently fund settings to deliver the ‘stretched offer’ for early education funding. Please contact the Family Information Service regards your request so we can continue to assess demand for this.
My child doesn’t have a birth certificate and immigration have given an incorrect date on my documents. This means that I don’t get my entitlement at the right time.
As part of the terms and conditions settings must make checks to confirm the date of birth and identity of each child for whom the grant is being claimed. Settings must not claim the grant for children whose date of birth and identity has not been established by checking an official form of identification. (This can include a passport or medical card.)
It is not acceptable for settings to accept dates of birth that parents have written on registration forms without verifying it against official documentation, except in exceptional circumstances
My child is now statutory school age and I cannot get them onto a school. Can I continue with their Early Education Entitlement until I find a school?
All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education for 38 weeks per academic year starting from the term following their third birthday. This entitlement applies until they reach compulsory school age which is the term following their fifth birthday.
For further advice about finding a school place for your child please contact the school admissions team on 0116 252 7009 (option 1).
How do I find a place for my child?
Leicester City Family Information Service is a free and impartial service that can help you choose the right kind of provision for your child and provide you with the contact details of settings in your area.
Can my child attend a city provider for free Early Education for three and four year olds if I live outside of Leicester City?
Children who live outside of Leicester city can still claim their Early Education Entitlement within the city and vice versa so children who live in the city can access their Early Education Entitlement in the county.
Are three and four year old children of asylum seekers eligible to receive the early education entitlement?
Yes, children of asylum seekers are eligible to receive the entitlement. It is available for all three and four year olds regardless of financial circumstances or nationality
Is any additional support available for children with special needs?
Yes, a child with a statement of special needs may be able to claim for 15 hours at a setting even if they do not attend for the full 15 hours. The funding must be used to support the child’s early education. Additionally, with permission from the Early Years Support Team, a child with special needs may be able to claim for 21 hours of funding per week in total.
Can I use the Early Education Entitlement at more than one setting?
Yes you can. If a child is attending two different settings it is very important that both providers are made aware of this, as the funding may have to be split between the two settings.