Free 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.
To find out about the potential benefits of accessing FEET watch our short films to hear what other Surrey parents using FEET have to say about it.
- Financial criteria
- Automatically funded criteria
- When can my child get a FEET place?
- When can my child use the free hours?
- How do I apply?
- I have already been approved for FEET but have lost my confirmation letter?
- How can I find a childcare provider offering FEET?
- Can I move my free hours to a new childcare provider once a new term has started?
- Further information
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)
- Support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
- Working Tax Credit and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
- Working Tax Credit 'run-on' – the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit and have an annual net earned income not over £15,400
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.
Automatically funded criteria
If a child is in one of the groups listed below they will automatically be eligible to claim FEET.
- Child looked after by Surrey County Council
- Child who has been adopted or has left care through either a special guardianship or child arrangements order
- Child with a statement of special educational needs (SSEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
- Child getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Please note: These are the only groups that can now claim FEET as 'Other criteria' was withdrawn on 31 December 2014.
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. These terms are set by the Department of Education rather than following school term dates.
|Child born between||Can have a free place from|
|1 January 2016 to 31 March 2016||April 2018 (Summer)|
|1 April 2016 to 31 August 2016||September 2018 (Autumn)|
|1 September 2016 to 31 December 2016||January 2019 (Spring)|
Your child can continue to receive FEET until the term after their third birthday when they will become eligible for Funded childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds.
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.
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
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.
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 Finance and Practice 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 Finance and Practice 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.
I have already been approved for FEET but have lost my confirmation letter?
If you've received a letter confirming you are eligible for FEET your details will also have been added to Surrey's 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.
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:
- pre school playgroups
- day nurseries
- nursery units of independent schools
- LEA maintained nursery schools and classes
- and childminders.
Our Choosing childcare booklet has information and advice on how to find 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.
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.
You can find further information about using FEET in our What's stopping you? (pdf) frequently asked questions sheet.
Files available to download
- FEET Application Form (271.8 KB)
Application form for Free Early Education for Two year olds (FEET)
- FEET What's Stopping You? Information Sheet (1.3 MB)
Frequently asked questions about using FEET
- FEET Basic Information Sheet (425.4 KB)
Details of Financial and Automatically funded criteria and how to apply
- Provider Agreement 2018-2019 (732.7 KB)
This document explains the process that childcare providers must follow to be able to claim funded early education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds (including 30 hours free childcare).