Providing funded early education for three and four year olds

This page is for childcare providers to find out more about Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds and how they can claim funding. Most of the documents and forms you'll need are on the Providing funded early education web page. If you're a parent, go to the Funded early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds web page.

Page contents


What is Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds?

All parents of three and four year olds can have up to 570 hours of funded early education a year. You can offer this as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year (called a term time offer) or you may want to spread the total number of funded hours over term time and school holidays by offering fewer hours each week (called a stretched offer).

Parents can start using their funded early education from the funded period starting:

  • 1 January 2024 (spring) - for children born between 1 September to 31 December 2020
  • 1 April 2024 (summer) - for children born between 1 January to 31 March 2021
  • 1 September 2024 (autumn) - for children born between 1 April to 31 August 2021
  • 1 January 2025 (spring) - for children born between 1 September to 31 December 2021

Parents can continue to access funded early education until their child either starts in reception class at a local authority maintained school or reaches compulsory school age, which is the school term after their fifth birthday.

Surrey County Council pays the funding for Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds directly to the childcare provider.

Some parents may also be eligible for 30 hours funded childcare which is an extra 15 hours a week (known as extended hours) on top of their 15 hours a week Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds (known as universal hours). You can offer Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds without also offering 30 hours funded childcare.


Who can offer Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds?

To be able to offer Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds, your setting must be one of the following:

  • a childcare provider registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register
  • an independent school registered with the Department for Education (DfE)
  • an academy
  • a childminder with an outstanding, good or requires improvement Ofsted outcome.

Nannies and home carers are exempt from the requirement to register as a childminder under The Childcare (Exemptions from Registration) Order 2008 if they provide childcare for no more than two families in the parent's homes. They are currently not permitted to register on the Early Years Register and cannot therefore receive early education funding.

Childminders cannot claim for children they are related to.

You must also register your setting on Surrey County Council's Directory of Providers. Find out how to become a funded early education provider.


How do I claim Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds?

Surrey County Council pays the funding for Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds directly to childcare providers. Once you've applied to become a funded early education provider and are registered on Surrey County Council's Directory of Providers, you'll be able to make claims through our online Funded Early Education Portal.

All claims for funded hours must be made on a term time basis (over 38 weeks per year). Childcare providers can continue to stretch the term-time hours themselves and may choose to offer these stretched across the year if they wish to rather than just over 38 weeks.

Please note that when delivering funded entitlement there are a maximum number of funded hours you can claim in a period. If delivering funded hours on a stretched basis, 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 you are open.

If you are delivering funded hours on a stretched basis you should make parents aware that at certain points of the year, it may be that you have offered more funded hours than you have been able to claim. In this situation, you may need to invoice parents for these additional hours. This would be at your standard charge and you would need to make this clear in your terms and conditions.

Please see the Stretched Funding Guidance, Information slides, and frequently asked questions available on the Providing Funded Early Education web page for further details.

The Provider Agreement explains how you can deliver funded early education, you can download all the relevant forms you'll need from the Providing funded early education web page including further information around charges within the charging guidance. If you need a Funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds estimate claim form please contact the Funded Early Education Team.


How much will I be paid?

The rate is £6.05 per hour for Funded Early Education.

You may also be able to claim the Disability Access Fund or Early Years Pupil Premium for eligible children.


Key dates

View the useful dates web page to find out headcount days, funded periods, estimate payment dates and follow on payments dates.


Statutory guidance

Please see the most up to date version here: Early Education and childcare statutory guidance for local authorities


Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is for three and four year old children who are taking up funded early education hours and are getting Disability Living Allowance. Please note that four year old children in primary school reception classes are not eligible.

Find out more about DAF including how to apply on the Surrey Local Offer website.


Contact us

You can contact Funded Early Education Team by:

You may also be interested in our Early Years Phase Council

You can advertise your provision, any changes to your offer, and available places via our Childcare Finder website. Please complete the appropriate online form if you wish to give consent for your provider details to be shared.

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