Further information about 2 year old free early education

What happens to the funding if my child attends more than one early education provider?

You can say on your parent declaration form how you want to divide your free hours between your chosen providers. You will need to talk to your providers about what they can offer you before completing your form.

Why does the early years provider need a copy of my child's birth certificate?

The provider needs to confirm your child's date of birth to ensure that they are of an eligible age to access a free place. If you do not have a copy of your child's birth certificate you can order one from HM Passport Office Certificate ordering service.

Can my child attend early years provision outside of Herefordshire?

Your child can attend early years provision in another English local authority, and that local authority will fund your child's place. The provider will be able to tell you how to claim in their area.

Can my child attend early years provision in Herefordshire if I do not live in Herefordshire?

Yes, your child can access their free hours with a Herefordshire provider. You will need to apply to Herefordshire Council.

Do I have to pay for the free place?

You should not be charged for the free hours. Herefordshire Council pays the provider directly for your child's free hours. The provider will then use this payment to provide up to 15 hours of early education for your child. Some providers offer free hours at specific times. We advise you to check that they are able to offer free hours at a time which meets your needs. If you choose to take up any additional hours or services from your provider, you will be charged accordingly for these.

Can lunchtime be classed as part of the free entitlement?

The free place can be taken over a lunch break if this is offered by your provider. They may offer a meal at an additional cost, however, you should also have the choice to provide your own packed lunch.

Is there any additional funding for a child with special educational needs and/or disabilities?

If a child has special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), their entitlement is still a maximum of 15 free hours. Where a child with SEND attends a specialist provision (such as a special school), the free hours must be allocated to these providers first, before they are used on other provision. If a child attends a specialist provision for less than 15 hours, children will be able to receive their remaining entitlement at any other funded provider.

Can I be charged a fee if I only want to use the free place?

You cannot be charged if your child only accesses free hours. If your child accesses additional hours and/or services, fees may be charged. Providers may charge a refundable deposit to secure your child's free hours. Your provider must refund this deposit to you by the end of the first term that you use your free hours. Please discuss this with your provider.

Can early education providers request additional payments?

Providers are able to charge for meals, nappies and other discretionary items such as trips and additional teaching activities, for example learning a musical instrument. However, parents must be given a choice to be able to opt out of these charges by providing their own items, for example a packed lunch or nappies from home. Where a parent is accessing a funded place, the provider cannot impose additional payments as a condition of offering a funded place. It is worth checking with your chosen provider for full details of any additional charges before you register your child with them.

Can I be charged during holiday periods?

If you have agreed with your provider to stretch your free hours over the holiday periods then you will not be charged. However, you will be charged if you are using more than the free hours agreed with your provider.

If you are not stretching your free hours over the holiday periods and don't want to pay for additional hours over the holidays, you may be given the option to pay a retainer to guarantee your child's place for the following term but it is best to speak to your provider about this.

If my child is unwell, is the free place affected?

You are not able to claim back any free hours that your child has been unable to attend due to illness. The free hours will be used to keep your child's place open for their return. If your child is unwell and unable to attend for more than four weeks, please contact your provider to discuss your child's place.

If I take a short holiday, how does this affect my child's free place?

If your child is unable to attend due to a family holiday, the funding will normally be used to keep their free place open until they return. Alternatively, if you discuss your holiday with your provider, you may be able to pay a retainer to keep your child's place open. This may mean that your child can receive their free hours later in the term. This would be at the discretion of your provider and they are under no obligation to offer this.

I am not sure that my child is receiving all of their free hours - what should I do?

Your early years provider should provide you with a clear invoice and you should be confident about how your fees have been calculated. If you are concerned, please arrange to speak to your provider who should be able to explain your fees. If you are still concerned, please email the nursery education funding team at nef@herefordshire.gov.uk with details of your concern.

What happens if I am awarded funding and then get a job? Do I lose my funding?

No. Once funding has been awarded it will remain in place regardless of any changes to your circumstances. If you have any queries or would like more information please contact the nursery education funding team at nef@herefordshire.gov.uk

Does the free place affect the claim that I make for the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit?

For Tax Credit purposes you can only claim for childcare costs that you will be paying for. For further information, please contact the Inland Revenue Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900.

For detailed guidance on how to access help for childcare costs for all age groups, please visit Childcare Choices.