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.
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.
Is my child eligible?
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.
- Income Support.
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments.
- Child Tax Credits (gov.uk) and have an annual household income up to £16,190 before tax.
- The Guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
- The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
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.
Automatically funded criteria
If a child is in one of the groups listed below, they will automatically be eligible to claim FEET.
- Are looked after by Surrey County Council.
- Have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
- Get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)..
- Have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order.
Non-EEA citizens who cannot claim benefits
Your two-year-old may get funded childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:
- claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as 'part 6'); or
- been refused asylum in the UK (known as 'section 4').
A two-year-old you care for may also get funded childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have any of the following.
- Leave to remain with 'no recourse to public funds' on family or private life grounds.
- Support from your local council because you have 'a child in need', for example they have a disability or a child protection plan.
- The right to live in the UK because you're the main carer of a British citizen (known as a 'Zambrano Carer').
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 January 2019 to 31 March 2019||April 2021 (Summer)||January 2021|
|1 April 2019 to 31 August 2019||September 2021 (Autumn)||April 2021|
|1 September 2019 to 31 December 2019||January 2022 (Spring)||September 2021|
|1 January 2020 to 31 March 2020||April 2022 (Summer)||January 2022|
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 year. You'll be able to take up 15 hours of funded early education a week for a total of 38 weeks. Alternatively you can take less than15 hours a week but spread the total number of hours over more weeks. Speak to your preferred provider to find out how this works at their setting.
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
Once your child starts at a childcare provider they will have to continue claiming either term time or stretched hours until the funded period after their next birthday to ensure they do not exceed the maximum number of 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.
How do I apply?
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 email@example.com
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 privacy notice on the Surrey County Council website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 you
- 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
- Childcare finder
- Paying for childcare
- Funded early education and childcare for three and four-year-olds
- 30 hours funded childcare for working parents
- Health and development reviews at age two – information for parents
- Early learning and development
- Family centre locations
- Childcare Choices: can I get help with my childcare costs?
- Childcare Calculator (Gov.uk)
- Benefits calculators (Gov.uk)
- Free early education for two-year-olds (FEET) short films