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What is it?

Nationally & across all Local Authorities, all three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early learning and childcare per week – for 38 weeks of the year. Leicestershire offers this funding in line with Leicestershire’s school term time. This entitlement begins the term after your child’s third birthday.
The early learning entitlement is often referred to as Nursery Education Funding (NEF) or Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE)

What are the benefits?

The benefits of quality early learning and childcare are sometimes undervalued. But imagine your child developing skills, creating, communicating and exploring in a safe environment with qualified childcare professionals. And all the while you have the time to work or attend courses.
Children who have received childcare have an easier transition into school because they have already had the opportunity to express themselves and socialise through a range of creative, physical, emotional and social play opportunities. They will be more confident interacting with other children and adults.

How do I get it?

Firstly, find a childcare provider in your area which offers the free entitlement. This might be a day nursery, pre-school and playgroup or a childminder.
A child’s claim is not based on where they live, (i.e. it is not the case that the family can only claim there place where they live) but, where the claim is made depends on where the childcare setting is located.
A child may access provision outside the county as well, i.e. Leicestershire & Leicester City- but a child can not access more than 15 hours in total in a week. Neighbouring County Councils’ have cross boarder checks to ensure over claims are not funded. A child can not be funded in more than two childcare settings.
Each provider will be able to discuss what they can offer and how they administer FEEE.
You can often arrange hours to suit your child, but this is dependent on the availability of places at the provision and the way in which your chosen provision offers FEEE Time.
The provider will ask you to fill in a form called a Parental Statement of undertaking (PSOU) which is used to confirm when, where and how your child uses their entitlement.

Do I have to pay towards it?

  • No, you do not have to pay towards your FEEE. Any time attended by your child which is claimed as FEEE is free! Providers cannot charge additional/ administration fees for your 15 hours of Nursery Education Funding. You are not obligated to purchase extra hours or pay for lunches in order for you to access your FEEE.
  • If you want your child to attend your chosen setting for more than the 15 hours a week they are entitled to, you may be charged administration fees and will have to pay for those hours at your providers published rates.
  • Before you take up the place at your chosen setting, do check what is chargeable, i.e. extra hours, late pick ups, meals, nappies, wipes, extra classes, etc. You don't have to accept any of these  charges if you send in your own nappies, food etc.
  • Please be aware that if your provider is picking up and dropping your child off at school, there may be additional charges
  • If your childs attendance at nursery (during FEEE time) is sporadic or there is no reasonable explanation for their absence (i.e. arranged holiday or illness) Leicestershire County Council may claim the money back from the provider. Providers should not pass on any losses to parents. Providers should ensure they communicate with parents about reviewing the claim if it is not seen to refelect the childs attendance.

Does the Provider need to be registered?

All childcare providers who offer FEEE will be registered with Ofsted and have been approved through Leicestershire’s Validation Process. This means they have met a minimum quality standard.
To check if your chosen provider is registered, contact the Family Information Service on 0116 305 65 45

When will my child be entitled to FEEE?

A child born between: Will be eligible for a free place from:
1st April and 31st August The start of the Autumn Term following their 3rd birthday until statutory school age.
1st September and 31st December The start of the Spring Term following their 3rd birthday until statutory school age.
1st January and 31st March The start of the Summer Term following their 3rd birthday until statutory school age.
View School term dates

What about when my child starts school?

If you apply for a school place before your child has reached compulsory school age, you may be offered a place in a nursery or reception class in a primary school, when they are 4 years old. This place is free except for meals and trips.
Once the child is attending school, even on a part time basis you are no longer entitled to FEEE.
Your child does not have to attend school until they are compulsory school age which is the term after he or she turns 5.

Are there any rules or limitations?

  • You can take no more than 10 hours in any one day
  • You can’t use less than 2.5 hours in any one day
  • You can’t access your 15 hours before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm
  • The 15 hours can be taken over a minimum of 2 days
  • You can spread your 15 hours free entitlement between a maximum of 2 settings, providing they operate for at least 38 weeks per year. Leicestershire County Council will determine how your payments are split between the two providers
  • Your child must be in attendance for all of the funded time claimed for by your early years provider, unless there is a valid reason such as illness or holiday.  Your provider may incur loses if it can not demonstrate viable absence. Your provider may also discuss with you the possibility of amending your claim so it better reflects your child’s attendance.
  • If a provider does not open for the full 38 weeks a child may access the remainder of the weeks and the free entitlement at another provider, assuming they can secure the necessary entitlement.

Contracts & Parenting Statement of Undertaking (PSOU)

Parents are advised to ensure they negotiate with providers around their child's place within an early learning and childcare setting. Early years providers are likely to have contractual arrangements in place detailing notice periods / payment schedules etc. Parents should read these documents and ensure they understand all aspects, if they have any concerns over this document they should take these up with their chosen provider directly. Parents should be aware that they are entering in to a legally binding contract with the provider, and are liable for additional charges if this contract is broken, as stipulated in the contract.
The Local Authority can not support parents or providers in disputes over contractual arrangements outside of the FEEE hours. All providers must ensure parents sign an up to date PSOU at the beginning of each term. If there is a change to your child's attendance this will be reflected in the claims made by the provision and an amended PSOU.
It is from this signed agreement that a provider will claim for FEEE monies on your behalf. If there is a change to your child’s attendance this will be reflected in the claims made by the provision and the PSOU.
If you decide to remove your child from one early years provider and move to another the funding will follow the child, providers are not entitled to retain any FEEE monies in this instance.
The provider should inform the Local Authority that the child has left their setting mid term to attend another provider. The monies will be taken back by the Local Authority, so that it can then be paid to the alternative setting.
If the parent chooses not to comply with any notice period set by the setting and leaves before the notice period is up then, as stated above, this is seen by the Local Authority as a contractual dispute between the parent and setting. FEEE will not be paid if the child is not in attendance during any such notice period and providers should not retain FEEE monies to supplement any loss.
If you have concerns over the way in which your FEEE entitlement is being administered you can put your concerns in writing to the
Early Learning and Childcare Service
Leicestershire County Council
Room 100a
County Hall

Further Information

Help with childcare costs
Ofsted – Information about childcare
Working in early years and childcare
Working Tax Credits
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Page Last Updated: 10 April 2014