The Free Entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 year olds funding scheme is open to day nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in West Sussex that meet the scheme criteria. The terms and conditions for providers are outlined in the provider declaration document below. Providers who join the scheme must adhere to these.
- Free Entitlement Provider declaration April 2022–March 2023 (PDF, 543KB)
- Free Entitlement Provider declaration - valid from 1 April 2023 (PDF, 475KB)
The base level of funding that all providers receive for 2 year olds is £5.47 an hour rising to £6.04 from summer 2023 term and for 3 and 4 year olds is £4.72 an hour rising to £4.97 from summer 2023 term. The funding is not a subsidy towards a provider’s normal fees as the entitlement is for a free place.
You may also be able to claim supplements for some 3 and 4 year old children who are in receipt of the funding at your setting:
- Deprivation supplement £0.47 per hour (flat rate top-up automatically applied to all children in receipt of Early Years Pupil Premium)
- Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) (PDF, 135KB)
- Disability Access Fund (DAF) (PDF, 210KB)
2 Before you apply to join the scheme
Before you apply to join the scheme to become a Free Entitlement provider, read the following in full:
- Provider declaration document - Check whether you meet the criteria for joining the scheme and understand the terms and conditions you must comply with in order to offer the funding.
- Frequently asked questions - Universal and Extended funding (PDF, 188KB)
- Frequently asked questions - 2-year olds (PDF, 170KB)
The following guidance and tools may also inform your decision about whether to include extended Free Entitlement (30 hours) places as part of your offer to parents:
- Financial spreadsheet - 30 hours evaluation (Excel, 28KB) - A spreadsheet to evaluate your financial and physical capacity to accommodate extra hours, and the impact on your income.
- 30-hour mixed model partnership toolkit - Department for Education toolkit can help you set up or join a partnership, maximise the benefits of working together and tackle the challenges joint working can bring.
3 Apply to join the scheme
When to apply
If you are an existing Ofsted registered provider, you must apply to join the scheme by the end of the first half of the term prior to the one in which you wish to begin claiming funding. You may apply to join the scheme earlier if you wish, as your approval remains valid even if you are not claiming for children at your setting.
If you are in the process of registering with Ofsted, you should apply as soon as you are in receipt of your Ofsted proposed registration unique reference number (URN). In the event that your Ofsted registration is delayed past your anticipated opening date, we will work with you to start your Free Entitlement places from an appropriate date.
How to apply
Contact us to register your interest. One of our team will answer any queries you may have and begin the process to apply.
4 How and when to claim
We need to approve your application to join the scheme before you can make your first funding claim. Your first funding claim cannot be earlier than the term after you apply.
Claims are submitted to us electronically using the Online Provider Portal only. You will be given access to the correct functions within the portal at the point of approval. Portal help guides and instructional videos are provided to help you to claim.
You are responsible for submitting your claims on time. Note that the weekly Early Years and Childcare broadcast email from the Early Help Service provides a reminder to make your claim - contact us if your setting is not receiving it.
Read an overview of the claims process below.
5 Children requesting a place after headcount
See how to claim funding for children who request a place after headcount in exceptional circumstances, or children who are part of an Afghan family that has arrived in England under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Programme (ARAP) or the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).
All children must attend their chosen childcare provider during headcount for the provider to be able to claim Free Entitlement funding via their Actuals submission.
In exceptional circumstances however, childcare providers can still claim funding for children who start after headcount. Valid exceptional circumstances include:
- a child who is part of an Afghan family that has arrived in England under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Programme (ARAP) or the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). These children must be claimed via a Post Headcount/Exceptional Payment request form and not included on your Actuals, regardless of whether they were in attendance at headcount
- a child approved for 2 year old Free Entitlement who is not already attending a West Sussex childcare provider
- a child has moved into West Sussex after headcount
- a child with an additional need whose start with a provider has been supported by a professional such as a GP, Portage, Speech and Language and Health Visitor.
Further examples can be found in the Free Entitlement Provider declaration.
For any requests for funding for children starting after headcount, childcare providers must complete the Post-headcount/exceptional payment request form below.
Before submitting the form, ensure you have checked the information below:
- Has the child attended another West Sussex childcare provider this term? If so, you may need to contact the previous/other provider for transfer of funding instead of submitting a Post-headcount/Exceptional Payment Request form.
- Is the child eligible for 2 year old Free Entitlement? If so, do you have the reference number if approved by WSCC, or evidence of approval by another Local Authority?
- Is the parent wishing to use Extended Free Entitlement? Have you gathered all required information, such as the 30 Hours Eligibility Code and have you checked its validity?
- Do you have parental permission to apply for additional funding, such as Disability Access Fund (DAF) or Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP)? If so, do you have required information and evidence? Requests for DAF must include a completed Parent Declaration and evidence that the child is currently eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). EYPP claims must include parent details, including date of birth and National Insurance Number.
You must submit your request within the term you wish to claim for. Requests received after the term the funding applies to will be declined.
Submit a Post-headcount/exceptional payment request - Free Entitlement FundingPost-headcount/exceptional payment request form (external link)
An account is not required to submit. It is recommended to select ‘Continue without an account’.
6 Additional scheme documents
The following documents are referenced in the provider declaration and are required for your administration of the Free Entitlement scheme:
- Free entitlement leaflet - to order hard copies for your setting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org stating the number required and the name and address for delivery.
- Parent declaration form (PDF, 320KB)
- Privacy Notice for parents accessing Early Years and Childcare provision (PDF, 114KB)