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Free childcare for 2 year olds (FEET)

If your child will be two by the 31 March 2017 and you meet the eligibility criteria you can apply now for a April 2017 place.

FEET image of boyFree Early Education for Two year olds (FEET) offers eligible families up to 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week for 38 weeks a year. You can find out if your child can get FEET by checking the financial and automatically funded criteria below.

High quality childcare can help your two year old get the best start in life, and you'll be amazed at how quickly they learn through play and these benefits will last them a lifetime. Watch our short films to hear what other Surrey parents using FEET have to say about it.

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 care 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.

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Automatically funded criteria

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

Please note: These are the only groups that can now claim FEET as 'Other criteria' was withdrawn on 31 December 2014.

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When can my child get a FEET place?

You can apply for FEET the term your child turns two but you won't receive the free hours until the following term. 

Child born between Can have a free place from
1 September 2014 to 31 December 2014 January 2017 (Spring)
1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015 April 2017 (Summer)
1 April 2015 to 31 August 2015September 2017 (Autumn)

Your child can continue to receive FEET until the term after their third birthday when they will become eligible for Free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds.

If your child is moving from FEET to Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds you should be able to continue to access the same hours, terms and conditions as you were accessing under FEET if you request to do so (as per clause 1.13 in Surrey's Provider Agreement 2016-17).

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When can my child use the free hours?

Children are entitled to a maximum of 570 hours per year. These will usually be offered as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year. However, the free hours may only be available within set times and sessions so you will need to speak to the childcare provider to see if the hours they offer suit your needs.

If your childcare provider is open term time only the maximum number of days they can claim each term is:

  • Spring 2017 - 59
  • Summer 2017 - 61
  • Autumn 2017 - 70

However, you won't be able to have:

  • More than 10 hours in one day
  • Less than 2.5 hours in one day
  • Any time before 7am or after 7pm
  • More than 15 hours a week
  • More than 570 hours per year

Some childcare providers may be able to stretch the hours throughout the year rather than just during term time so for example you could receive 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.

However, 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.

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How do I apply?

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

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are using a Surrey childcare provider you can apply for FEET by completing the Surrey FEET Application Form (pdf) and sending it to the address given on the form.

If you do not have access to a printer you can request a copy of the form through our online enquiry form (please put FEET application form in the What is your enquiry? box).

Applications should only be made one term before your child is eligible for funding. When the FEET 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 FEET team at the beginning of the term your child turns two.

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

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

If you receive a letter confirming you are eligible for FEET your details are also added to the Free 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. You just need to agree to the search permission on the Free 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.

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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 Free Early Education for Two Year Olds' on the right hand side.

These will include:

Our Choosing childcare booklet has information and advice on how to find, choose and pay for childcare. You might also like to have a look at our At my childminder's photobook for real life snapshots of how children in the care of a childminder might spend their time.

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Can I move my free hours to a new childcare provider once a new term has started?

You can only move the funding for the free 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 either your registration form or the Declaration of attendance form, that your child will be leaving during the term and you specify the last day that you wish the childcare provider to claim the free 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.

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Further information

To find out more about the potential benefits of accessing FEET watch our short films showing the experiences of Surrey parents.

You can also find additional information about FEET in the Parent Information Booklet and What's stopping you? information sheet below.

Files available to download