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Free nursery places for three and four year olds

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Free nursery places for three and four year olds are available throughout the UK. They are entitled to 15 hours of free early years education a week, until they go into reception class or reach compulsory school age. It is available from the school term after your child turns three. So youngsters born between January 1 and March 31 can get the free places from April; children born between April 1 and August 31 can start in September and those born between September 1 and December 31 are eligible from January.

A limited amount of funding will be available for two year olds from September this year, but eligibility will depend on your circumstances – call the Family Information Service to find out more about this.free nursery places for three and four year olds

Choosing your childcare provider

You can choose to take the free entitlement with participating registered providers such as pre-school playgroups, private day nurseries, childminders, maintained nursery schools or nursery or reception classes in a primary school.The 15 hours can be spread over a minimum of two days, or a maximum of five days, between 2.5 and 7.5 hours a day. It is usually taken over 38 weeks, based around school term time.

Free sessions can be used anytime between 7am and 7pm depending on what’s offered by your chosen provider and you can choose to split the 15 hours between two different providers if you want to. The nursery or setting will be able to apply for the free early education entitlement on your behalf and it is paid directly to them.

How to claim

To claim the entitlement you will need to find a suitable setting and let them know how many hours you would like each week and how you want to spread them out. You will be asked to fill in a declaration form and return it before a deadline date for the Government funding to be claimed on your behalf. But be aware that the local authority might 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 and you must inform a new provider as soon as possible to see if a place is available if you plan to move your child to a different setting. If your child already goes to nursery, reception class or school nursery then the hours they do will count towards your free entitlement. Obviously you will be asked to pay for any hours over and above the free 15.

You will have to tell your chosen provider your address, child’s date of birth (with evidence such as a passport or birth certificate), how many hours you wish to claim and when. They will then take care of the rest.

Additional costs

There may be additional charges for meals, snacks or optional extras not necessarily included within the free entitlement.

The Family Information Service can provide a list of childcare providers who offer free entitlement funding. Once you have this list, it’s worth visiting a number of places so you can choose which best meets the needs of you and your child.






About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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