Funding arrangements for eligible 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Find out about funding arrangements for Free Play and Learn for two year olds, and Early Education entitlement for three and four year olds.

Early Years Funding Rates 2018/19

You will be aware from the Early Years Funding Formula Consultation 2018/19, which was published on 29 January 2018, that there is a provision to include a new band within the Quality (staff qualifications) supplement for Early Years practitioners who have a Level 5 qualification in Early Years.

This new band will apply from the beginning from the new financial year and will be incorporated into the Summer Term 2018 interim payments.

Could you please confirm the highest Early Years qualification held for the staff employed at your setting by compelting our Early Years qualification levels survey. The member of staff must spend at least 50% of their time working directly with children.

If we receive no returned submission by the closing date of Friday 23 February 2018, then your supplement for Early Years qualifications will remain unchanged from the information we currently hold for 2017/18 financial year.

Early Years Funding Timetable 2018/19

Details of term dates, estimated hours submissions and interim payments, actual submissions and balance payments are now available for the 2018/19 financial year. Please see the document Early Years Funding - Provider Payment Timetable 2018/19 in the related links section of this page.

Spring Term 2017/18 funding information

The Spring term deadline for actual submissions via the Provider Portal has now closed. The Early Years Funding Team will process these submissions and make a payment to those who met the original deadline by Wednesday 28 February 2018. Details of our payment deadlines and schedules are available in the related links section on this page.

30 hours funding process guide

Our 30 hours funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds – funding process guide for childcare providers helps you with the process. The first flowchart looks at dealing with parents and offering places, the second with how to register to offer the funded places.

The Early Years Provider Portal

The Provider Portal is now live for all registered providers of Early Years Education with Durham County Council. All termly estimated hours, headcount returns and funding adjustments should all now be submitted through the Provider Portal. The Early Years Funding Team will no longer be issuing paper forms for these processes.

All registered providers of Early Years Education should ensure that they contact the Early Years Funding team to receive a Password and Portal User ID. Without a User ID you will not be able to receive any Early Years funding.

From September 2017, registered early years providers will also be able to check eligibility for Free Play and Learn for two year olds and 30 hours entitlement for qualifying three and four year old’s through the Provider Portal.

Two year olds – Free Play and Learn

To qualify for Free Play and Learn for two year olds, parents/carers must have completed an application which has then been approved by us either via a Golden Ticket, a letter from our Childcare Places Team, or a six digit reference number obtained via the Durham County Council Parent Portal. Before claiming funding, providers need to witness evidence of a successful application from parents/carers.

A child will be entitled to the funding from the term after their second birthday if the child or parent meets the eligibility criteria. Two-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of funded early year’s provision if:

  • The child comes within the criteria used to determine eligibility for Funded School Meals (FSM) (as set out in section 512ZB(4) of the Education Act 1996).
  • The parent of the child is entitled to Working Tax Credit under Part 1 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 by virtue of an award which is based on an annual income not exceeding £16,190.
  • The child has a statement of special educational needs made under section 324 of the Education Act 1996.
  • The child has an Education, Health and Care plan prepared under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
  • The child is entitled to Disability Living Allowance under section 71 of the Social Security and Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.
  • They are looked after by a local authority (under section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) or:
  • they are no longer looked after by a local authority as a result of an adoption order, a special guardianship order or a child arrangement order (within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989) which relates to either or both of the following:
  • with whom the child is to live;
  • when the child is to live with any person.

Eligible children can be offered up to 570 hours of free Play and Learn sessions in a year and this is usually taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. If you would like to claim for fewer hours over more weeks (ie “stretch” the entitlement) please contact the Early Years Funding Team. 

The rate for two year old children in 2017/18 is £5.10 per hour.

Checking eligibility via the Provider Portal

Early Years Providers should be aware that Parents can check eligibility directly themselves for a funded Two Year Old Play and Learn place from the week commencing Monday 2 October 2017 via the Parent Portal operated by Durham County Council. Any qualifying child (based on Parent’s name, Date of Birth & National Insurance number or National Asylum Seekers Support number) will be issued a 6 digit code confirming their eligibility. You can then enter the detail for qualifying children via your Provider Portal to claim funding. This eliminates the need to contact the Childcare Places Team to verify eligibility for cases where a 6 digit code has been issued.

This is explained on page 12 of the Provider Portal Guide (which can be found near the top of this page).

Two year olds – term dates for 2017/18

Funding for two year olds is available for a maximum of 570 hours per year, and the table below shows how these hours are allocated across each term. Please note, you will not be funded for any hours in excess of this for each term, so if a child attends your setting for more than the hours stated below you will need to make separate arrangements for parents/carers to pay for these additional hours at your normal hourly rate.

Funding Term Start date End date Weeks Hours 2 year old eligible birth dates
Summer 3 April 2017 21 July 2017 13 195 1 April 2014 31 March 2015
Autumn 4 September 2017 22 December 2017 14 210 1 September 2014 31 August 2015
Spring 8 January 2018 30 March 2018 11 165 1 January 2015 31 December 2015
Annual Total 38 570

Three and four year olds - early education

Children can access up to 15 funded hours per week for each term. This is a universal offer, and begins from the start of the term following a child’s third birthday. This is at £3.70 per hour plus increments based on deprivation levels and staff qualification rating.


Your rate for 2017/18 can be found below:

If you cannot find details for your setting in the file, please contact the Early Years Funding Team using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Three and four year olds – extended free entitlement

From September 2017, the Department for Education rolls out a new policy of extended entitlement of up to 30 hours funded childcare for eligible children aged three and four.

A child is eligible from the term that begins following their third birthday if the child’s parent(s) meets the eligibility criteria set out below:

  • The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the funded childcare to enable them to work.
  • The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should also be in qualifying paid work. Each parent or the single parent in a lone parent household will need to expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or their national minimum wage rate over the forthcoming quarter.
  • Where one or both parents are in receipt of benefits in connection with sickness or parenting, they are treated as though they are in paid work.
  • Where one parent (in a couple household) is in receipt or could be entitled to be in receipt of specific benefits related to caring, incapacity for work or limited capability for work that they are treated as though they are in paid work;
    where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’, (ie they are newly self-employed), they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for twelve months in order to qualify for the extended entitlement.
  • If either or both parents’ income exceeds £100,000 they will not be eligible for the extended entitlement.

Three and four year olds – term dates

The allocation of hours across the terms is shown in the table below.

Funding Term Start date End date Weeks Hours 3 year old eligible birth dates 4 year old eligible birth dates
Summer 3 April 2017 21 July 2017 13 195 1 April 2013 31 March 2014 01 April 2012 31 March 2013
Autumn 4 September 2017 22 December 2017 14 210 1 September 2013 31 August 2014 1 September 2012 31 August 2013
Spring 8 January 2018 30 March 2018 11 165 1 January 2014 31 December 2014 1 January 2013 31 December 2013
Annual Total 38 570

Payment arrangements

Payments are made in two parts. Firstly, we will make an advance payment to you by the first day of term equivalent to 75% of the sum we estimate you will be due to that term. Secondly, following the headcount process we will make a balance payment to you to reflect the actual number of pupils attending your setting.

Where pupils leave, or new pupils join your setting after the headcount date in a particular term you must inform us by completing the Pupil adjustment which you can submit via the Provider Portal.

Please note that the payment dates shown in the table below are contingent on you ensuring that we receive your returns by the deadline date. Where this deadline date is not achieved then we cannot guarantee payment by this date.

Key deadlines and payment dates

Term Advance Return Deadline Advance Payment Date Headcount Date Headcount Return Deadline Headcount Payment Date
Summer 17 March 2017 24 April 2017 18 May 2017 26 May 2017 14 July 2017
Autumn 18 August 2017 4 September 2017 5 0ctober 2017 13 October 2017 8 December 2017
Spring 4 December 2017 8 January 2018 18 January 2018 26 January 2018 28 February 2018

Autumn Term Headcount 2017

The final deadline for accepting Autumn term 2017 Funding Adjustments will be the Spring term headcount submission date (Friday 26 January 2018). Any submissions received after this date will not be processed by the EY Funding team.

Early Years Pupil Premium

Funding for disadvantaged three and four year olds comes from the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). You may be entitled to funding worth approximately £100 per term for qualifying children. For more information contact us on Tel: 03000 268 913 or 03000 268 914 for eligibility criteria.

Submitting claims for EYPP for Spring term 2017/18

There have been issues regarding claiming EYPP for 3 and 4 year old’s from September 2017. The previous method of submitting a list to the Child Care Places Team/ School Meals Team (dependent upon what type of setting you are) is no longer required, as you can make a claim via the Provider Portal for the children you think may be eligible for EYPP.

Providers should go into the respective child’s record and in the Parent/Carer Tab complete each required section with the Parents name, Date of Birth and also their National Insurance Number or National Asylum Seekers Number. Please note that without all of this detail provided, a check will come back as “not eligible”.

Once you have completed this tab, and the child’s record is complete, please submit your claim via the Provider Portal. The Spring Term will be locked for submissions on Friday 26 January 2018 and that is the stage when we will instruct the Childcare Places Team do to a check on all of the EYPP claims received via the Provider Portal and to confirm eligibility for this term.

Please note that any qualifying children from previous term’s who are still at your setting, will also be rechecked and their eligibility re-confirmed for Spring Term 2017/18.

This is explained on page 9 of the Provider Portal Guide (which can be accessed near the top of this page).

Contact us

Early Years Funding Team
County Hall

Tel. 03000 262 789

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