What if I want my child to attend a Local Authority or Academy Nursery?
There are a limited number of free places at local authority and academy nurseries. You can apply for a place by contacting the Head teacher of the school. It is advisable to contact the school as soon as possible after your child’s second birthday. If places are oversubscribed, check the school policy to see how places are allocated.
What happens to the funding if my child attends more than one nursery?
You can say on your Parent Declaration Form how you want to allocate 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.
How do I claim the free place?
- to claim your free hours you will need to complete a Parent Declaration Form, which will be given to you by your chosen child care provider, this confirms the total number of hours that your child is attending per week
- you will need to provide proof of your child's date of birth to your chosen childcare provider before accessing their free place
- your child's setting can choose how they offer the free entitlement. Please discuss your requirements with each setting before completing this form to ensure that what they offer meets your needs.
Why does the childcare provider need a copy of my child's birth certificate?
The childcare provider needs to confirm your child's date of birth to ensure that they are eligible. If you do not have a copy of your child's birth certificate you can order one from HM Passport Office Certificate ordering service (opens in a new window).
Do all childcare providers offer free early education hours?
No, not all providers offer free hours. Find childcare.
What if the childcare provider I want to use has no spaces?
If your preferred childcare provider has no suitable vacancies, you can choose an alternative please see Find childcare.
Can I still receive the free place if I do not live in Worcestershire?
If your child attends a childcare provider in Worcestershire, the place will be funded regardless of where you live. If your child attends a childcare provider in another local authority, that local authority will fund your child’s place. The childcare provider will be able to tell you how to claim in their area.
My child will soon be old enough to start in the reception class at school, do they have to go or can I leave them with my childcare provider?
Legally, your child must start school the term following their fifth birthday. You can claim the free hours at your childcare provider up until this time as long as your child has not started in a reception class at school.
More information about deferring or delaying your school place can be found in the factsheet available on the School Admissions Website.
Do I have to pay for the free place?
You should not be charged for the free hours. Worcestershire County Council pays the childcare provider directly for your child's free hours. The childcare provider will then use this payment to provide early education for your child. Some childcare providers offer free hours at specific times. It is advisable to check that the childcare provider is able to offer free hours at a time which meets your individual needs. If you choose to take up any additional hours or services from your childcare provider, you will be charged accordingly for these.
Is there any additional funding for a child with Special Educational Needs?
If a child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), their entitlement is still a maximum of 15 free hours (or 30 hours if they are eligible for the additional 15 hours). Where a child with SEN attends a specialist provision (such as a Special School or a Speech and Language Unit), 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 hours at any other funded provider.
Disability Access Fund
If your 3 or 4 year old is in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) then your childcare provider can access a Disability Access Fund. This is £615 a year that goes to the childcare provider of your choice which supports the provider to meet your child's needs. You will need to say on your Parent Declaration Form that your child receives a DLA and provide a copy of the DLA letter to your provider as proof. If you are using more than one provider, you can decide which provider receives the Fund (it can only go to one provider).
Early Years Pupil Premium
The Early Years Pupil Premium is an extra payment given to your childcare provider for the universal 15 hours only (not for 30 hours or for 2 year olds). This is accessed by providers for families who are in receipt of certain benefits. Please let your provider know what benefits you are receiving via the Parent Declaration Form so they can claim this additional funding which will help them to meet your child's needs.
Can I be charged a registration fee if I only want to use the free place?
If you only access the free hours there should not be a registration fee. If you access additional hours and/or services, a registration fee may be charged. Discuss this with your childcare provider.
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 using your free hours over the holiday periods and don't want to pay for additional hours over the holidays then your childcare provider might not be able to guarantee your child's place for the following term. You may have 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. If your child is unwell and unable to attend for more than four weeks then your provider should contact the Nursery Education Funding Team for advice.
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, their free hours will normally be used to keep their free place open until they return. Alternatively, if you discuss your holiday with your childcare 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 childcare provider and they are under no obligation to offer this.
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.
I am not sure that my child is receiving all of their free hours – what should I do?
Your childcare provider should provide you with a clear invoice and you should be confident about how your childcare fees have been calculated. If you are concerned, please arrange to speak to your childcare provider who should be able to explain your fees.