Free part-time early years education for all 3 or 4 year old children.
- 15 hours per week for every 3&4yr old child
- 30 hours per week for children whose parents qualify for extended funding
- Some settings let you 'stretch' the entitlement to cover school
Children become entitled for a funded place on 1 January, 1 April and 1 September.
For example, if your child's third birthday is on 1 April 2016, they will become entitled for funded part-time early years education from the beginning of the autumn term in September 2016.
Where the Easter holiday falls does not affect eligibility.
We are also able to offer some places to eligible 2 year olds.
How to apply
Funding is paid directly to the childcare provider. Your childcare provider will ask you to complete a form each term and they sort out the funding - you do not need to do anything else.
The Southampton Information Directory lists providers approved by Ofsted and Southampton City Council.
Who is eligible for the 15-hour offer? SHOW
All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early years education. You can start receiving funding the term after your child turns 3. The date this starts will depend on when your child's birthday is.
Who is eligible for the 30-hour offer? SHOW
Many children from working families may also be eligible for the 30 hour funding offer.
30 hours free childcare – applications
HMRC are encouraging parents who want to take up a 30 hours place to apply in good time.
30 hour applications need to be made the term before childcare is required.
HMRC occasionally require more information from the parent/carer to check whether they’re eligible for the 30 hour offer, so time should be allowed for this to ensure a valid code is received well ahead of the term deadline.
When can my child start receiving 3 & 4 year Old Funding? SHOW
|Child's 3rd birthday||When your child can start|
|1 January - 31 March||Summer term (1 April - 31 August)|
|1 April - 31 August||Autumn term (1 September - 31 December)|
|1 September - 31 December||Spring term (1 January - 31 March)|
If you would like your child to attend a pre-school or other provider before their 3 year old funding starts you will need to pay until your child is eligible for the funding, unless your child is eligible for a funded 2 year old place.
The government is introducing new ways to help parents with childcare costs.
Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support.
Tax-Free Childcare is available to nearly two million households to help with the cost of childcare, enabling more parents to go out to work, if they want to, to provide greater security for their families.
You can also view Childcare Choices information in Polish.
How many hours of early education funding can my child have? SHOW
Your child is entitled to 570 hours of early education.
This can be used across a minimum of 38 weeks, and a maximum of 15 hours per week. For many children this will mean 3 hours a day during school term times.
You can 'stretch' your child's entitlement by taking fewer hours a week over more weeks of the year, where the provider has capacity to offer this.
The following standards apply:
- no session to be longer than 10 hours
- no minimum session length (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
- not before 6.00am or after 8.00pm
- a maximum of two sites in a single day
You will need to speak to your chosen provider about the availability and times of sessions available.
You may be entitled to up to 30 hours per week or 1140 hours per year for children where their parents meet certain criteria.
I have already applied for an account with HMRC - how can I access it? SHOW
I have had technical issues trying to access the 30 hour offer SHOW
If haven’t been able to complete your application and get your 30 hours free childcare code for technical reasons, you should call HMRC on 0300 123 4097.
There is also a guide for claiming compensation or a top-up refund.
Where can my child take up their early education place? SHOW
The free early education and childcare can be taken in a variety of settings in Southampton:
- school nursery class
- nurseries or pre-schools on school sites
- independent schools
- nurseries or pre-schools in Children’s Centres
- day nurseries
- childminders (childminders cannot be funded for a child to whom they are related)
All settings that offer nursery education must be registered with Ofsted. Providers of funded early education places are usually judged as good or outstanding. Some settings with less than good or outstanding may be able to offer sessions.
You can use your entitlement at more than one provider, for example using a group provider and a childminder. We strongly recommend that you consider the impact on continuity of care for children when enabling children to take up their early education place at more than one provider, as some children find this very unsettling.
Settings may be run by private, voluntary, independent or maintained providers.
Does my child have to take up their funded hours of education? SHOW
Your child does not legally have to attend any type of education until the term after their 5th birthday. However, this is a very important stage for your child as it helps get them ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes.
From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure, and support their development, care and learning needs. Attending an early years setting will ensure that you and your child are supported during this important period.
You can choose to use only part of your entitlement e.g. 2 sessions per week.
Will I have to pay anything towards my child's place? SHOW
Funding is paid directly to the childcare provider. You will be asked by the provider to complete a declaration form. If you need to pay fees for the additional services provided (for example, if a nursery is looking after your child for more than the funded 15 or 30 hours in a week), the funding will be passed to you as a saving on your fees.
The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.
Your childcare provider or the Family Information Service can give you more information about any additional fees and charges which may be payable.
Where can I get information to help me choose? SHOW
To get a place for your child, you will need to find a setting suitable for you and your child. You can search the information directory for settings, or contact the Family Information Service on 023 8083 3014.