Any eligible children can access funding from the term after they turn two once the family has received approval of their application. Please see the cut-off dates below:
1. Their parent(s) claim one of the following benefits:
2. The child has a
statement of special educational needs made under section 324 of the Education
3. The child has an Education, Health and Care Plan prepared under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014
4. The child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance under section 71 of the Social Security and Contributions and Benefits Act 2014
5. They are looked after by a local authority (under section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) or by a local authority in Wales within the meaning given by section 74(1) of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014
6. They are no longer looked after by the local authority as a result of an adoption order, a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order (within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989 or section 74(1) of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014) which related to either or both of the following:
Make an application
Apply for Free Early Education Entitlement
Once you have received approval for an application please take the reference to your chosen provider who will ask you complete a parent/carer agreement form.
If you need help applying online you can also apply:
Our guide to making an online application explains every step of the process.
If you are a parent and would like more information, please call the Family Information Service on 0800 055 6874 or visit your local Children’s Centre.
If you are a provider or practitioner please visit the Early Years website.
Using Free Early Education Entitlement
The 15-hour entitlement can be used:
over a minimum of two days or a maximum of five days, at a minimum of 2.5 hours a day and a maximum of 10 hours a day
over 38 weeks, or pro-rata over a maximum of 50 weeks per year. Some providers, such as independent schools, may offer less than 38 weeks. However, they must offer a minimum of 33 weeks and 11 in any one term
anytime between 7am – 7pm, depending on the sessions offered by your chosen provider
through just one childcare provider
without being subject to conditional additional payments
How to claim Free Early Education Entitlement
Please take your approved application reference to your chosen provider. They will be able to claim funding from Essex County Council which is then paid directly to your provider on a termly basis.
Each term your provider will ask you to sign a parent/carer agreement form. The form is your commitment to that provider for your child's place for that term. The provider will then submit the form to Essex County Council to claim the Free Early Education Entitlement for the next term.
Early Years census and personal data
Each year, early years settings in the private, voluntary and independent sector who have children accessing the Free Early Education Entitlement for three and four-year-olds are required to complete an Early Years Census. This information is passed by each setting to Essex County Council, which provides it to the Department for Education.
What we need
We only collect basic personal data about you and your child which does not include any special types of information or location based information. This does, however, include name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number.
Why we need it
We need to know your basic personal data in order to share with the local authority and Department for Education who will access information from other government departments to confirm your child's eligibility for the extended free entitlement. we will only collect the personal data that we need in order to carry out these checks. We will not sell your personal information to anyone else.
What we do with it
We will do what we can to make sure we hold records about you (on paper and electronically) in a secure way. We will only make it available to those who have a right to see it. All personal information we receive is processed by our staff in the UK. However, for the purposes of IT hosting and maintenance this information is located on servers within the European Union. No third parties have access to your personal information, unless the law allows them to do so.
How long we keep it
We are required under UK tax law to keep your basic personal information (name, address and contact details) for a minimum of 6 years, after which time it will be destroyed.
What are your rights?
If, at any point, you believe that the information we hold on you is incorrect, you can request to see it, have it corrected or deleted. If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal information, you can contact our Data Protection Officer who will investigate the matter.
If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are not processing your personal information in accordance with the law, you can complain to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) by visiting www.ico.org.uk or emailing email@example.com
View Essex County Council's privacy notice
Our Data Protection Officer can be contacted at DPO@essex.gov.uk or by calling 03457 430 430. Information on how the Department for Education holds and uses this data can be found at www.gov.uk