Providers' FAQ

Information for Providers

What are the eligibility criteria to deliver free early education (FEE) places to 2 year olds?

As long as an early year's provider does not have an inadequate Ofsted inspection judgement and is prepared to sign our Funding Agreement we will fund them to take an eligible child.  The DfE has stated that they would like all providers who offer places to targeted 2 year olds to be judged good or better by Ofsted.  In principle we agree with this.  However in some areas there is not enough high quality provision so we have agreed to temporarily allow providers with a lower Ofsted judgement to deliver these places.  This will be reviewed regularly.  Our decision supports greater parental choice and is currently the same approach as we have for 3 and 4 year old children.  We offer support to improve early year's providers' quality so that they are more likely to get an improved Ofsted grade at their next inspection. New providers are also eligible to deliver places until their first inspection.

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Does an eligible provider have to provide places if they've signed the Funding Agreement (FA)?

No. A provider does not have to provide places even where they have signed the FA. Where an eligible provider is unable to place a child, the family will look for a place elsewhere. Providers are not expected to hold places open to accommodate a potential placement. Providers will only receive funding when they agree to take an eligible child and that child commences a place.

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What child eligibility criteria will apply for the September 2014 offer?

The government has confirmed that the following groups of children will be eligible: 

  • They meet the eligibility criteria also used for free school meals;
  • Their families receive Working Tax Credits and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year;
  • They have a current statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care plan;
  • They attract Disability Living Allowance;
  • They are looked after by the LA;
  • They have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order.

The groups of children eligible from September 2013 remain eligible. 

The Department for Education will confirm the benefits and earnings criteria for families on Universal Credit at a later date.

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What happens if a child is withdrawn from a funded place that has been agreed?

As per the existing process for FEE for 3/4 year olds, the eligible provider will be paid for children claimed for on a headcount or supplementary headcount form. Where a child subsequently ceases to attend for any reason, LCC will not seek to claim back the funding. This is in recognition that the provider has incurred costs in making suitable provision available for that child. The only exception to this is where the child has been moved to a new provider at the request of a social worker. Where a parent requests to move a child mid-term (after a headcount has been processed by LCC for that term for the child) it is at the provider's discretion whether they pass the funding to another eligible provider for the remainder of the term. The provider is entitled to keep the funding to cover hours which would be taken in relation to its standard notice period. For the next term the child would need to be removed from the headcount form at the previous provider and included in the headcount form by their new provider.

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An eligible child already attends my setting, what happens in this instance?

You should encourage the parent/carer to check their eligibility by using our online eligibility checker or by calling the Family Information Service on 0300 123 6712. If they are eligible we will write to them with confirmation of their eligibility. Once they provide that evidence to you they can be claimed for as an eligible FEE2 child as long as we have a Revenue Funding Agreement in place with your setting. Other groups of children are eligible through a referral process. You will need to talk to a relevant professional to get the referral process underway. Once we confirm we have accepted the referral you are able to claim for the child.

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Are providers able to claim for eligible children in retrospect?

The earliest date from which LCC will consider paying for a child is the date of written confirmation from us that the child is eligible (usually via a letter to the parent/carer). We will not fund sessions which the child may have previously accessed. A Revenue Funding Agreement must be in place between LCC and your setting before any claims for funding can be accepted however, LCC cannot pay you for claims made before this agreement is in place nor outside of the current financial year.

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What if the child would clearly benefit from more than 15 hours of early education?

There is a maximum entitlement to 15 hours per week, 570 hours per year. If a child's needs mean that additional hours would be beneficial, the parent/carer or an agency working with that child may decide to purchase additional hours. This arrangement will be between the provider and the purchaser of those additional hours, without reference to the FEE Team.

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