Funded early education for two year olds (FEET)

Contents

Introduction

Early Years settings are wonderful places for your child to learn, develop new skills, make new friends and have fun. Children develop quickly in their earliest years, and early education supports their development and overall wellbeing.

FEET funding is for two-year-olds of families in receipt of specific benefits, or those who meet one of the additional criteria listed below.

Please be aware applications for the two-year-old entitlement for eligible working families should be made via Childcare Choices.

Is my child eligible?

Financial criteria

If your family receives one of the following benefits, then your child may be eligible to claim FEET. Once your child has been agreed for FEET they will continue to be funded even if your family does not meet the criteria at a later date.

Claiming FEET does not affect your benefits, but if you are using the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit you can only claim for any childcare over and above the 15 hours. If you were using the childcare element before claiming FEET and you do not change your hours you may need to contact HMRC so they can adjust their payments to you. They can be contacted on 0345 300 3900.

Funded Early Education for two-year-olds (FEET) offers eligible families up to 15 hours of funded early education and childcare a week for 38 weeks a year. You can find out if your child can access two-year-old funding by checking the eligibility criteria below.

Apply for FEET using the Parent Portal


Automatically funded criteria

If a child is in one of the groups listed below, they will automatically be eligible to claim FEET.

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.


If you're a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits

To qualify for a funded two-year-old place, you must either be:

Receiving support under sections 95 or 98 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Or

If your immigration status says you have 'no recourse to public funds', you may still get funded childcare for your 2-year-old. You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.


When can my two-year-old access their funded place?

Eligible children can receive FEET from the start of the funded period following their second birthday. These periods are set by the Department of Education rather than following school term dates.

Child born between Can have a funded place from You can apply from
1 September 2021 to 31 December 2021 January 2024 (Spring) September 2023
1 January 2022 to 31 March 2022 April 2024 (Summer)

January 2024

1 April 2022 to 31 August 2022 September 2024 (Autumn) April 2024
1 September 2022 to 31 December 2022 January 2025 (Spring) September 2024

Your child can continue to receive FEET until the funded period after their third birthday when they will become eligible for Funded early education and childcare for all three and four-year-olds.


How can my child use their funded hours?

Children are entitled to a maximum of 570 hours per funded year; your child's funded year starts from the funded period after their birthday. These hours will usually be offered as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks a year. However, the funded early education hours may only be available within set times and sessions so you will need to speak to your childcare provider to see if the hours they offer suit your needs.

However, you won't be able to:

  • Have any time before 6am or after 8pm
  • Have a session longer than 10 hours
  • Claim more than 15 hours a week
  • Claim more than 570 hours per year
  • Use the funding at more than two sites in one day

Childcare providers can only claim funded hours for 38 weeks per year but may choose to stretch these hours themselves to offer these across more weeks of the year. So, for example you could receive up to 10.96 hours per week for a maximum of 52 weeks a year. If this would suit you better speak to the childcare provider to see if they are able to offer you a more flexible option.

Once your child starts at a childcare provider, you must be aware that:

  • There are a maximum number of funded hours you can claim in a period. You should discuss this with your early years provider.
  • The number of hours a child can stretch depends on the hours they are entitled to and which period they start claiming from, as well as the number of weeks the provider is open. You should discuss this with your early years provider.
  • If your provider is stretching funded hours across the year and your child leaves mid-way through the year, they may not receive their full funded entitlement. This should be included in the terms and conditions you sign when accepting your childcare place.
  • At certain points of the year, it may be that your childcare provider has offered more funded hours than they have been able to claim. In this situation, they may need to invoice you for these additional hours. This would be at the provider's standard charge, and they would make this clear in their terms and conditions.
  • If you would like to change between receiving your hours term time and stretched this would be at your childcare providers discretion. If they choose to allow you to change from taking term time hours to stretched hours during the year, they must make you aware that you may not receive your full years allocation of 570 hours.

You will be asked to complete and sign a Surrey County Council Declaration form for each funded period stating how you are taking the funded hours.


Do I need to pay anything towards a funded place?

Providers can choose the times that they offer the funded hours. They can also set their own rates for any additional time or extra services such as snacks, lunch, trips, or music classes; they should let you know in advance what you will be expected to pay.

However, these charges cannot be a condition of accessing your place and alternative arrangements should be made available. Any charges should be itemised and cannot be a supplementary 'top-up' (the difference between their usual fee and the funding they receive from the local authority to deliver funded places).

If you think that you are being charged for your child's funded early education hours or are being invoiced incorrectly you should speak to your childcare provider in the first instance. If you are still unsure, then you could contact us, and we can ask the team who administer the funding to check your invoice.

Please note that at certain points of the year, it may be that your provider has offered more funded hours than they have been able to claim. In this situation, they may need to invoice you for these additional hours. This would be at the provider's standard charge, and they would make this clear in their terms and conditions.

You should receive an invoice from your childcare provider at least once each funded period clearly showing what you are being asked to pay for. If you think that you are being charged for your child's funded early education hours or are being invoiced incorrectly you should speak to your childcare provider in the first instance. If you are still unsure, then you could contact us, and we can ask the team who administer the funding to check your invoice.


How do I apply?

You can apply online through the funded childcare parent portal.

If you would prefer to receive a paper application form in the post, please contact Family Information Service (FIS) on 0300 200 1004 or email fundedearlyeducation@surreycc.gov.uk

Applications should only be made one term before your child is eligible for funding. When the Funding Team receive your application, they will check your eligibility and then write or email you to let you know if you qualify.

Any applications received before one term in advance of funding will be held on file and you will only hear from the Funding Team at the beginning of the term your child turns two.

Once your eligibility has been confirmed you can continue to receive the funding even if your circumstances change and you no longer meet the qualifying criteria.

You do not have to live in Surrey to apply but you will need to take your funded hours at a childcare provider in Surrey. If the childcare, you use is in a neighbouring council you will need to contact that area's Family Information Service to apply for the funding.

If you make an application for FEET funding, your data will be stored electronically and will be kept for 7 years. You can view a copy of our Early Years Entitlement Funding - Privacy Notice.


Where can I find a childcare place?

You will need to take up your funded childcare place at an Ofsted registered early years provider. Not all providers are registered to deliver funded childcare, please enquire at a setting of your choice to find out more.

Your child may be able to attend a day nursery, preschool, maintained nursery school, nursery class in a maintained or academy school, independent school or childminder

Nannies and home carers are currently not permitted to register on the Early Years Register and cannot therefore receive early education funding.

Visit the Childcare Finder to search for childcare settings in your area who offer funded places for two-year-olds.

If you would like some further support in securing a place at a childcare setting in your area which meets your needs, please contact Family Information Service (FIS) on 0300 200 1004 or email EYcommissioningteam@surreycc.gov.uk


What's stopping you?

I can look after my child at home – why should I take them to an early years setting?

Early years settings are wonderful places for your child to learn, develop new skills, make new friends and have fun. Children develop quickly in their earliest years; early education supports their development and overall wellbeing.

I feel that my child is too young to be in childcare, do you have any advice?

Finding the right early years setting for your child could make all the difference. It could be that you start them off in a smaller, more homely environment with a childminder when your child is two and then move to a nursery or pre-school when they turn three. You can choose to split their childcare between more than one provider if that helps. And remember, you don't need to take up a place straight away, once you have your two-year-old funding acceptance letter you're eligible until your child turns three.

How can I find a childcare provider offering FEET?

You can find details of childcare providers who offer FEET in Surrey on our Childcare Finder. Just enter your location or postcode and scroll down to select 'Yes' to 'Registered to provide Funded Early Education for Two-Year-Olds' on the right-hand side.

I think I'm eligible for two-year-old funding now but my circumstances might change later this year. If that happens, will I still able to take up the offer of childcare for my two-year-old?

Yes, once you get your acceptance letter letting you know that you're eligible, your funding is guaranteed until the term after your child turns three. It doesn't matter if your circumstances change so if you think you are eligible now, apply now!

I'm already paying for childcare, when can I take up my 15 funded hours?

As soon as you receive your two-year-old funding acceptance letter, you can show it to your chosen early years setting. It shows the date they can start claiming funding for your child and when you will no longer need to pay for 15 hours of childcare for your two-year-old.

If I apply and I'm eligible, will I have to use all 15 hours of childcare?

No, you don't have to take all of the 15 hours of childcare your child is eligible for if this doesn't suit you. Speak to your childcare provider about starting off with fewer hours and gently building up the number of hours your child attends.

As I'm just about to move house, is it worth applying as my child would be going to a childcare provider near where I live now?

Moving house can end up taking a lot longer than you first imagine, dragging on for six months or longer. Why not apply for 15 hours of early education for your two-year-old now and transfer the funding to a different childcare provider if you move and it's too far for you to travel to your current provider.

My child isn't toilet trained. Can I still apply or take up an offer of childcare?

All childcare providers should welcome children whether they are toilet trained or not, it shouldn't be a problem so don't let it stop you applying. If the childcare provider says that your child needs to be toilet trained to be able to take up a place, please contact the Early Years Commissioning Team by emailing EYcommissioningteam@surreycc.gov.uk.

What should I do if there isn't a place for my child with the childcare provider I want my two-year-old to go to?

You could choose to split the childcare, taking a couple of sessions with a different childcare provider while you wait for a place to come up for the remaining hours with your preferred childcare provider. Or you could use another childcare provider when your child is two, keeping in mind that you can switch childcare providers when they turn three and perhaps go to the one you had in mind in the first place.

I'm worried that my two-year-old won't be able to cope with being in childcare, how do other parents deal with this?

Remember, your childcare provider will be happy to have a settling in period and will talk to you about what this involves. It could be that you're invited to stay and play when your child first starts. With the agreement of your childcare provider, you might decide to start off with fewer hours and gradually increase the time your two-year-old spends there.

Is it true that schools don't offer funded childcare for two-year-olds?

No, more and more schools are opening their doors to two-year-olds. They often have their application forms online on their school website and you should be able to arrange a visit to look around before you make any decision about taking up a place.

When my child turns three will they still get 15 hours of childcare or will I have to pay?

Your child will get two-year-old funding until the term after they turn three, at which point they will be automatically eligible for early education for three and four-year-olds. This is also 15 hours a week, so there's no gap.

I have already been approved for FEET but have lost my confirmation letter or message?

If you've received a letter or message confirming you are eligible for FEET funding this term, your details will also have been added to Surrey's Funded Early Education Portal. Your chosen childcare provider can use this portal to check that you qualify for FEET without needing to see a copy of your letter or message. You just need to agree to the search permission on the Funded Early Education Registration form and they will be able to find your FEET ID number by using details like your child's name or date of birth.

Can I move my funded hours to a new childcare provider once a new funded period has started?

You can only move the funded hours to a new childcare provider if:

  • You move house and it's now too far to travel to your current childcare provider
  • You change jobs and the hours your childcare provider offers no longer meet your childcare needs
  • You have stated on your Declaration form, that your child will be leaving during the funded period, and you specify the last day that you wish the childcare provider to claim the funded hours for
  • Your childcare provider gets an inadequate outcome in their latest Ofsted inspection
  • Your current childcare provider has closed or has been suspended by Ofsted

Please note: you may still need to give your childcare provider the required notice period stated in your childcare contract with them.


See also and useful links

Surrey County Council webpages

External websites

Download

Funded early education for two-year-olds (FEET) application form (PDF)


Files available to download

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