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Free Nursery and Early Years Places

Funded childcare places for 2 year olds.

Your two year-old child may qualify for a funded early years place if:

  • your home address is in Nottinghamshire, and 
  • they are classed as a "looked after child" (A "looked after child" is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services function. The term "looked after child" would include a child who was previously "looked after" but, immediately thereafter, became subject to an adoption, resident or special guardianship order)  
  • have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order

or you receive one of the following benefits: 

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)
  • Working/ Child tax-credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • your child receives Disability Living Allowance.
  • your child has an Education Health and Care plan. 

If they are 2 between:

  • 1 September and 31 December – Apply between October and December, eligible from January (spring term)  
  • 1 January and 31 March – Apply between January and March eligible from April (summer term) 
  • 1 April and 31 August – Apply between mid-May and August eligible from September (autumn term) 

Places are available for up to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per year (term time only).  The places are available in OFSTED rated good or outstanding providers on the Nottinghamshire Directory or with approved childminders.

Funded childcare places for 3 and 4 year olds

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

The funded early years entitlement can be taken flexibly 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 2.5 hours can be taken in one day

A maximum of 10 hours can be taken in one day.

You can take the funded entitlement at up to two providers. The basic offering is three hours over five days a week, or five hours over three days a week, but many providers will allow you to take the provision flexibly, in a pattern that meets your needs. For example, your child could have nine hours at a nursery or reception class and six hours with a playgroup, day nursery, childminder or independent school over the course of two days or more.

What is my child entitled to?

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of funded early learning and care, over 38 weeks of the year.

  • Children who are three in January, February or March can have their funded place from the start of the summer term.
  • Children who are three in April, May, June, July or August can have their funded place from the start of the autumn term.
  • Children who are three in September, October, November or December can have their funded place from the start of the spring term.

30 hours funded childcare

The funded hours for 3-4 year olds was extended to 30 hours for working* parents in September 2017.

If eligible, you will be entitled to an extra 570 hours of funded childcare a year to use flexibly. This is 1,140 hours in total.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

You can't claim the additional hours if you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more.

Your child may go to any early years setting which is included in the Nottinghamshire Directory of Providers and has a place available. This includes many:

  • day nurseries
  • independent schools
  • nursery centres
  • nursery units in schools
  • pre-schools or playgroups
  • schools with pre-school groups
  • some childminders
  • children's centres.

Contact us for help with finding a place. You may decide to visit several providers to help you choose the right setting for your child. Once you have chosen where you would like your child to go, check that there is a place available, and confirm the start date and the fact that you would like to claim your free early years entitlement. The provider will give you a form to complete, so that they can claim the funding for your child's place. This will be paid directly to the provider.

Each term, providers have a deadline for claiming this funding. The local authority may not be able to fund a child who has not taken up a free entitlement place by this date. Funding is for a minimum of half a term; if your child moves to another provider during a term then you need to inform the new provider as soon as possible, to see if a free early years entitlement place is available.

Please note that if your child attends a part-time place in a school nursery, reception class or nursery class, then the hours attended will be counted as part of your child’s entitlement.

If meals or snacks are included as part of your free entitlement hours, your provider will not charge you for these. Providers are only permitted to charge for meals, snacks or optional extras as long as they are not part of your free entitlement hours.

If you use more than the funded hours per week, or for longer than 38 weeks per year, there will be a charge from the provider for these additional hours. Please check with your provider for full details of any additional charges. 

Extra support for children with special educational needs

The Local Authority is committed to supporting early years and childcare providers to work towards an inclusive approach and to meet the individual needs of all children.

Your provider can apply for inclusion funding to help with extra staff costs of supporting children with additional needs. For more information, speak to your provisions manager or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO). The provider will be able to get information from their Early Years Specialist Teacher.

We are working to make sure that there are enough high-quality early years education places in the county.

For more information about Funded Nursery and Early Years Places please contact us on 0300 500 8080

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