Free early education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

In Blackburn with Darwen some two year old children and all three and four year old children can get free funded early education.

Free early education is an opportunity for your child to join in play based activities in a quality environment to support their developmental learning journey and prepare them for school.

Free early education is offered by a range of providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors.

Early years providers offer various models of flexibility when delivering free early education. You will need to check directly with your preferred provider if they can offer the attendance pattern that you require for your child.

How attending free early education will benefit your child.

Your child will have the chance to play and learn in an environment that will help to extend their skills and experiences, develop their confidence and build on what they already know.

Research clearly demonstrates that good quality early education benefits children in the long term in respect of enhancing their all-round development and helps them early on to prepare for school.

Finding an early education provider

15 hours free early education for 2 year old children

Some two year old children are eligible to access up to 570 hours of free early education a year.

If your child is eligible, they can access free early education at different times of the year depending on when their birthday falls. But, they can only start their place after they turn 2 years old, in the new upcoming term.

Your 2 year old child can start free early education at different times depending when their birthday is:

  • If their birthday is between January 1st and March 31st they can start in April, after their second birthday
  • If their birthday is between April 1st and August 31st they can start in September after their second birthday
  • If their birthday is between September 1st to December 31st they can start in January after their second birthday

Check if your 2 year old child is eligible for free early education

Only children and/or families that meet the national criteria are eligible for a funded early education place.

Please ensure you read the national criteria below to check if you or your child are eligible before submitting your application online.

The national eligibility criteria

Your child may qualify if they have:

  • been in local authority care for 1 day or more
  • been adopted from local authority care
  • left local authority care under a special guardianship order, a child arrangements order or an adoption order
  • a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan (EHC)
  • Disability Living Allowance

or

As a parent/carer you may qualify if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits and they have a gross annual income of no more than £16,190
  • Universal Credit and they have a net annual income of less than £15,400
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

You’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits and you:

  • Claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • Been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

Your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

  • Leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • The right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)
  • You are excluded from claiming public funds as a consequence of your immigration status, or lack of immigration status; and you are in receipt of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989

Apply for 2 year old funding

Apply

If you need help with the online application process or want to discuss your child’s eligibility contact the families information service on 01254 667877

Alternatively email: fis@blackburn.gov.uk or drop in to your nearest children’s centre.

You will be contacted by email if funding for your child has been approved.

If your child is eligible, you will receive an approval letter.

You will need to take this with you to your chosen childcare provider.

The completion of an online application does not guarantee a place, it depends on the individual setting and the number of places they have available at the time.

15 hours free early education for all three and four year old children

All three and four year old children are automatically eligible for 15 free hours of free funded early education per week, up to a maximum of 570 hours of free early education a year. This can be used flexibly with one or more childcare providers.

All 3 and 4 year old child can start their free early education at different times of the year, as long as it is from the term after their third birthday. However they can only start once they turn 2 in the new upcoming term:

Your 3 or 4 year old child can start free early education at different times depending when their birthday is:

  • If their birthday is between January 1st to March 31st they can start their free early education in April, after their third birthday.
  • If their birthday is between April 1st to August 31st they can start their free early education in September, after their third birthday
  • If their birthday is between September 1st to December 31st in January after their third birthday

How to apply

You don’t need to complete an online application for this. Simply choose the early years provider(s) where you would like your child to attend and apply directly with your chosen provider to access the free early education.

30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year old children

30 hours free childcare is available for families who meet the national eligibility criteria up to a maximum of 1,140 hours per year. (This is an additional 15 extended hours of childcare per week on top of the standard 15 universal hours entitlement).

These additional 15 extended hours can be used during term time or stretched over the whole year, including weekends and can be accessed flexibly to meet the needs of working parents.

Eligibility

Both parents are working and/or:

  • One parent working in lone parent family (earning equivalent of 16 hours a week on National Minimum Wage or Living Wage including those receiving tax credits or Universal Credit)
  • One/both parent(s) is away on leave (parental, maternal, etc.)
  • One/both parent(s) are in receipt of benefits in connection with sickness or parenting
  • Both parents earn less than £100,000 each per annum

or

  • One parent is employed and;
  • Other parent has either, substantial caring responsibilities and/or disability

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

If you have already applied for 30 hours of free childcare and you disagree with the eligibility outcome as determined by HMRC, there is a review and appeals process available.

The review and appeals process is managed by HMRC. Please contact the HMRC Customer Helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Extending 30 hours free childcare to children in foster care

Some children in foster care may be entitled to up to 30 hours of childcare for 38 weeks of the year giving foster families the same support as other working families.

This is an additional 15 extended hours of childcare to support working families and is on top of the 15 hours universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds in England.

Eligibility

Children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old will be able to receive 30 hours free childcare, if the following criteria are met:

Accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan; and

  • Where there is a single foster parent family, the foster parent is engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent; or
  • Where there are two foster parents in the same fostering household, both are engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent.

If you think you are eligible for this funding, please speak to the child’s social worker in the first instance to confirm that accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan. Once agreed, application forms can be accessed by contacting the early years funding team, email: earlyyears.funding@blackburn.gov.uk

Foster parents applying for 30 hours for their other birth children should continue to use the Childcare Service on www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.

Documents

If you think you may be eligible, download and complete the appropriate application form below:

Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP)

Early years providers are able to claim extra funding through the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) to support your child’s development, learning and care.

The extra funding can be used in a variety of ways to support your child’s individual learning, through the early year’s education.

If you feel that your child meets the criteria for this funding, then please speak to your childcare provider.

Eligibility

Some three and four year old children in funded early education will attract EYPP funding if they meet at least 1 of the following criteria:

Their family gets 1 of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Universal Credit; if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £7,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

or

Your child may qualify if:

  • they have been in local authority care for 1 day or more in England or Wales
  • they have been adopted from care in England or Wales
  • they have left care under a special guardianship order or residence order in England or Wales

Children must receive free early education in order to attract EYPP funding. They do not have to take up the full universal 570 hours of free early education they are entitled to in order to get EYPP.

Free early education and special educational needs

Some children have special educational needs in relation to learning, physical disabilities or medical needs, which mean they may need additional support. For most children their provider will meet their needs as most early years providers make reasonable adjustments for children with additional needs.

Early years providers are also able to access central support services who can provide advice and assistance, for example, the educational psychology team or SEND Support Service.

A small number of children may require more specialist support. If your child has special educational needs and/or disabilities and requires additional support to enable them to access their early learning please let your preferred provider know when you apply for a free early education place.

You can also contact SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs & Disability Information Advice Support Service) for confidential information, advice and support on (01254) 583957.

The service offers impartial information, guidance and support to parents of children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. The service aims to provide pupils, young adults, parents and carers, schools and other professionals with the opportunity of working together to meet the special educational needs and/or disabilities of the individual pupil.

Blackburn with Darwen‘s Local Offer is an online resource that details services, support and guidance available to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0 – 25 and their families.

Disability Links

Disability Links is a voluntary service that provides information about local groups and activities to support the needs of those with SEND, aged between 0 to 25 years and their families/carers.

For further information or to be kept updated on services, you can request to be placed on the Disability Link register

Before registering your interest, you will need a MyBwD account. Watch a tutorial on how to create an account if you do not have one.

You can request to be removed from the Disability Links register.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is available funding for early years providers to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. It aids access to early year’s places by supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings.

Eligibility

Your child may qualify if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance (DLA) and;
  • the child accesses their early education place at a registered Ofsted years provider

4-year olds in primary and infant school reception classes are NOT eligible for Disability Access Funding (DAF).

For children who attend more than one provider, parents need to be aware that only one payment can be made and they must nominate which provider that should be.

Further information.

SEN Inclusion Fund

The SEN Inclusion Fund is to support local authorities to work with providers to address the needs of individual children with SEN.

Support is led and managed directly by the child’s early year’s provider with additional financial support per term paid directly to the early years provider for the provision of additional resources e.g. staffing, staff training, equipment

Eligibility

Your child may qualify if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is displaying some level of special educational needs and/or disabilities and;
  • the child is assessed against the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at a development level of 16 to 26 months in one or more of the prime area of learning and;
  • the child is subject to a CAF, Child Protection or Child in Need plan and;
  • the child accesses the funded entitlement at an early years provider.

If you feel that your child meets the criteria for this funding, then please speak to your childcare provider.

Tax free childcare

Tax-free childcare is a UK wide government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare. For every £8 paid in, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child.

Further information and how to apply

Admission to primary or infant school

Children in Blackburn with Darwen typically start school the September after their fourth birthday. This means that if your child was born between September 1, and August 31, he/she can start school full time from September.

Everyone requiring admission for their child to a primary or infant school should apply online.

For further information or support, contact the pupil support and admissions team on 01254 666605.

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You can do this by telephoning the corporate complaints team on 01254 585367or emailing us at feedback@blackburn.gov.uk.