Providing free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Information for childcare providers - find out how to provide Free Entitlement to eligible children.

1 Overview

The terms and conditions for all day nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in West Sussex signed up to offer the Early Years Funded Entitlement (EYFE) scheme are outlined in the provider declaration document below. Providers who join the scheme must adhere to these.

The current rates for funding are as follows:

  • 2 year olds accessing LA Issued EYFE or EYFE for working families: £8.27 per hour base rate.
  • 3 and 4 year olds (Universal EYFE and Extended EYFE for working families: £5.82 per hour base rate.
  • 9 month old EYFE (available from September 2024): £11.39 per hour base rate.
  • Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP): £0.68 per hour.
  • Deprivation supplement: £0.49 per hour automatically applied to all children in receipt of EYPP in addition to rate above. Total additional funding of combined EYPP and Deprivation supplement of £1.17 per hour.
  • Disability Access Fund (DAF): £910 per year (available to one setting nominated by parent).
  • Inclusion Funding: See our Inclusion Funding web page for current bands and rates.

Note that EYFE funding is not a subsidy towards a provider’s normal fees as the entitlement is for a free place.

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:

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:

3 Apply to join the scheme

When to apply

If you are an existing Ofsted registered provider, you must apply to join the scheme in 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 as a new provider, or are taking over an existing provider, you should apply as soon as possible, though please note that we will only be able to complete your sign up once your registration is complete. 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.

What you will need before applying

You will need to include the below documents with your application:

  • Admissions and fee policies, detailing your policies on Free Entitlement, Early Years Pupil Premium and Disability Access Fund.
  • Written pattern of delivery, showing how your provider will offer Free Entitlement.
  • Example invoice(s) showing how Free Entitlement hours will appear.

Once your Ofsted registration is complete and you have access to the Online Provider Portal, you will also need to complete a 'Termly childcare update form' via the Online Provider Portal before your ability to offer Free Entitlement is agreed.

A checklist for your reference is provided below, which will help you determine if your policies are compliant with the Free Entitlement Provider Declaration. You must read the WSCC Free Entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 Year Old Provider Declaration first before submitting your application.

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 Funding

Post-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:

Last updated:
24 May 2024
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