Early Years funding

Eligible families of two year olds and all three and four year olds are entitled to funded Early Years Entitlement (EYE).

Funded EYE places are available in Ofsted registered school nursery classes, state or private nursery schools (including independent schools), day nurseries, pre-schools and childminders. They need to be approved by the local authority to deliver EYE.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to 5 years old in order to deliver Early Years Entitlement.

Local authorities follow the Department for Education's (DfE) Early education and childcare statutory guidance to deliver the funded EYE for two-, three- and four-year-olds.

We use this guidance to develop the EYE funding terms and conditions which all childcare providers who deliver Early Years Education on the Island of Wight are required to comply with.

1. Your child’s entitlement to the funded Early Years Education

The entitlement to funded Early Years Education starts in the funding period which follows your child’s third birthday (or second birthday if the family is eligible). Children become entitled on 1 January, 1 April and 1 September.

When is your child's birthday?Your child becomes eligible for fundingPeriod when funding starts
1 January to 31 March (Spring)From 1 AprilSummer
1 April to 31 August (Summer)From 1 SeptemberAutumn
1 September to 31 December (Autumn)From 1 JanuarySpring

Early Years Entitlement finishes in the funding period after your child's fifth birthday. However if your child starts school before this time (even if it is on a part time basis), then the funded Early Years Entitlement will stop at the childcare provider as your child is receiving education at school which is free.

A place in a school nursery does not guarantee admission to school and parents must apply for a place at the school if they want their child to transfer to the reception class.

If you would like your child to continue attending their childcare provision even though they are of school age (deferment) then please see School Admissions for further information, including details regarding 'delayed entry'.

2. How much EYE funding is my child entitled to?

If your child is aged:

  • two (and your family meet the eligibility criteria)
  • three or four years.

Application process

If you think you are eligible to claim two year old funding, you can apply online using the Citizen Portal. 

The universal entitlement can be accessed from the funding period following a child's third birthday or from their second birthday if eligible.

Early Years Entitlement can be accessed up to 15 hours a week over 38 weeks. This is a total of 570 hours, which can also be taken over more weeks with less hours. The funded entitlement starts the funding period after your child becomes age eligible and continues until they start school.

For 3 and 4 years olds, this is called the 'universal' entitlement. Eligible working parents who are accessing their universal entitlement can also apply for the ‘extended’ entitlement of a further 15 hours a week over 38 weeks (’30 hours childcare’).

3. How funded EYE hours are delivered

Parents can use more than one approved childcare provider for their child to access their funded hours. Funded Early Years Entitlement can be offered flexibly by childcare providers but in any one day:

  • no session to be longer than 10 hours
  • no minimum session length (Providers can set their own. Subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
  • no sessions to be before 6am or after 8pm
  • it can be shared between a maximum of two childcare providers per day, without being subject to additional payments.

If a child starts his/her placement after the beginning of a funding period, funding will start from when your child takes up a place and cannot be backdated.

4. “Standard” and “stretched” Early Years Entitlement

The “standard” delivery for Early Years Entitlement is up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks, totalling 570 hours for your child’s eligible funding year.

For parents who would benefit from their child attending their Early Years Education over more than 38 weeks some childcare providers are able to offer these funded hours over a “stretched” period of up to 52 weeks.

It is possible for your child to have “standard” hours with one childcare provider and “stretched” hours with another as long as the total amount of hours does not exceed 570 in your child's eligible funding year.

5. Apply for EYE funding

You will need to talk to the childcare provider that you are currently using (or intend to use) for your child’s funded Early Years Education.

The childcare provider will check when your child will become eligible for “universal” entitlement. If your child is eligible, you will be asked to complete an Early Years Entitlement (EYE) Parent Declaration Form.

Your provider will then claim “universal” funding for your child's place from the Isle of Wight Council. The funding will go to the childcare provider direct.

If you apply for extended entitlement then you need to follow the information below.

The DfE states that Early Years Education places paid for by the local authority must be delivered completely free of charge to parents. This means that parents cannot be charged, either directly or indirectly where they are only requesting the funded hours. 

Where parents require their children to access additional services; for example lunch or more hours than the funded entitlement, the provider will have terms and conditions relating to the payment of these additional services. This should be discussed before your child takes up a place so that you are clear about how any additional fees and charges are applied.

EYE for three- and four-year-olds – extended entitlement (30 hours childcare)

Additional 570 funded hours for eligible children.

On top of the ‘universal’ entitlement of 570 hours of funded which is available to all children, children aged 3 and 4 may also be able to benefit from an additional (‘extended’) 570 hours.

Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds who are eligible will be able to apply for up to another 15 hours of early years education or childcare per week for 38 weeks. This is called the ‘extended’ entitlement.

In total there are 1,140 funded hours in the child’s funded year that are available and can be ‘stretched’ over more weeks to help for example cover some school holidays:

  • 51 week provides around 22 hours each week
  • 38 weeks provides 30 hours each week

Eligibility criteria for additional 570 hours of funded early years education and childcare

The eligibility for the additional 570 hours of free early years education/childcare is similar to the requirements of working parents who apply for Tax-Free Childcare, except this funding is only for 3 and 4 year olds. The Government has stated that eligibility for 30 hours cannot until both the following conditions have been met:

  • The child must be age eligible for the “universal” free entitlement hours and
  • It is the term following receipt of the parent’s eligibility code from HMRC the start date for the first claim applies to whichever is the later

The childcare service and calculator

The Childcare Service is the joint Tax-Free Childcare and 30 Hours service through which parents can:

  • apply and (re)confirm their eligibility for the funded additional 570 hours (’30 Hours’); and have a tax free childcare account to make payments to childcare providers. 

The Childcare Calculator is a useful tool which provides information to parents about the types of childcare funding available. This is the first place to go before making any applications for childcare funding.

To apply for the additional 570 hours of funded early years education (’30 Hours Childcare’) go to the Government’s Childcare Choices online childcare service.

Parents can only make applications for the additional hours directly to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through the online service. For assistance with the online application contact the helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Once an application is made HMRC will notify parents of the need to reconfirm their working status every 3 months so that they remain eligible to have the funded additional 570 hours ('30 Hours') and Tax Free Childcare.

Applying for the additional 570 hours of funded early years education and childcare

Parents can apply up to 16 weeks before their child is eligible to take up their extended entitlement. If a parent is starting work for the first time (and therefore will no longer be receiving welfare benefits) then they need to apply 2 weeks before their employment start date. It is recommended that parents seek advice from their Job Centre work coach or contact the Childcare Service helpline before making their online application as welfare benefits will automatically stop once an application is submitted.

Some applications may require HMRC to carry out additional checks so it may take 10–15 days to receive the eligibility code. It is therefore important for parents apply in a timely manner.

Parents access their eligibility code from their childcare account.

When eligibility is confirmed, parents will be notified of the dates that the eligibility runs from and to.

Eligibility dates are not the same as the dates that the funding can be claimed. The funding is in line with the universal funding and can only be claimed from the term after your child’s 3rd birthday.

To claim funding, parents must have their eligibility confirmed by the HMRC for the extended 15 hour entitlement by:

  • 31 August, to start on 1 September, or
  • 31 December, to start on 1 January, or
  • 31 March, to start on 1 April

Parents will need to present their 11 digit eligibility code from their childcare account to their child’s childcare provider in order to arrange the additional hours. Parents will also need to provide their National Insurance number and child's date of birth if they have not done so already.

The childcare provider will confirm to the parent whether the code is valid using an online portal provided by the local authority.

The additional hours will be agreed between the parent and the childcare provider and the date that the child can start accessing these hours.

If the parent’s working status should change, for example the parent is made redundant; the child can continue to have the additional funded hours until the parent is asked to reconfirm their status by HMRC. There will be a ‘grace period’ after reconfirming which allows for changes to the working status such as the parent starting another job.

4. Need help applying for the extended entitlement of additional 570 funded hours (‘30 Hours’)

For help with the government’s childcare service online application, contact their helpline on 0300 123 4097.

5. Need help in finding early years education and childcare providers

To find out which childminders, nurseries and pre-schools offer early years extended entitlement hours (‘30 Hours Childcare’) go to the Childcare Directory.

6. Reconfirming your eligibility for 30 hours funded childcare and/or Tax-Free Childcare

If you have applied and claimed up to 30 hours of funded childcare or Tax-Free Childcare, you must reconfirm your eligibility. You must do this even if your child has not started their 30 hours place. Confirmation must be done 3 months from the date you applied to receive the extra hours, then every 3 months after.

You will receive a text or email 4 weeks before your reconfirmation deadline. This will prompt you to log into your Childcare Service account and go to 'secure messages' to access your reconfirmation date. You can reconfirm your eligibility up to 4 weeks before your reconfirmation date.

The reconfirmation process may differ for some parents. Such as:

  • your circumstances have not changed you will need to tick a box to confirm this. You will not receive a new code but the existing one will get extended for 3 more months
  • your circumstances have changed you must amend and resubmit your details
  • you completed your original application over the phone. You will need to phone the Customer Service Centre to reconfirm your eligibility
  • you currently have a temporary code (these start with 11) you must complete a new application through your online childcare service account to get a permanent code

If you miss the reconfirmation deadline, or if your circumstances change, you will get a message to say your eligibility has ended. You will be able to keep your childcare place for the ‘grace period’, but then the additional funded hours will stop so you need to discuss with your childcare provider what will happen next.

If you become eligible again for 30 hours or Tax-Free Childcare you will need to submit a new application. You will also need to present your new eligibility code to your provider for validation and to make childcare arrangements.

For more information, visit Childcare Choices.

Early Years pupil premium

If your child is 3 or 4 years old and receiving universal early years entitlement funding then their childcare provider could claim an additional £302 per year for each child. The premium can be spent on supporting the development, learning and care of children.

Like the pupil premium available in Isle of Wight schools for children in Reception year up to Year 11, the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) will provide nurseries, pre-schools and childminders with extra funding to support children in achieving the best early years outcomes.

Eligibility criteria

Your child may be eligible if you receive any of the following benefits:

 Funding maybe available if your child falls into one of the following groups:

  • Has been looked after by the local authority for at least one day.
  • Adopted from care.
  • Has left care through a special guardianship arrangement.
  • Is subject to a child arrangement order.

If your child falls into one of the groups above, you will need to speak to your social worker who can apply on your behalf.

Apply for the Early Years pupil premium

If you think your family meets the eligibility criteria, the next steps are:

Speak to your childcare provider and let them know. They can inform you of the information they need to confirm your child's eligibility.

Your childcare will need you to complete the confidential parent declaration form and return it to them.

Privacy notice

We are committed to keeping your personal information safe and processing it in accordance with our obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations and related data protection legislation. The Isle of Wight Council is the data controller for the personal information you provide. For further information view our Privacy Notice.

Government policy

As part of the government policy of improving the quality and range of education and childcare from birth to 5 years, the Department for Education have created the Funded Early Education Choice Framework; to download a copy of the framework, visit GOV.UK website.