The importance of the first few years of a child's life cannot be over-stated. Children who have the right support in the foundation years enjoy better health, well-being and achievement at school and later life.

There is strong body of evidence that shows good quality childcare and pre-school provision has positive benefits on children's all round development. The benefits of good quality pre-school education is especially important as it boosts development before children start school, helping them achieve and flourish.

Free for 2 Scheme (FF2):

Children can be only accepted on this scheme if you have an 'Eligibility Confirmed Email from your relevant Children's Centre.

If you feel you may be eligible please contact your local Children's Centre.

The free entitlement can only be taken between the hours of 8.00am - 6.00pm. The FF2 funding is available for 15 hours per week, term time only, for the two terms directly before the 3 year old funding starts. Families do not have to use the free funding with one provider. You have the option to split the hours between a maximum of two Registered Providers.

Early Years Free Entitlement for children aged 3-4 years:

Registered early years childcare providers are required to offer what is known as the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is the first stage of the National Curriculum and is called this because it aims to give children secure foundations for later learning. It builds on what children already know, their interests and what they can do and helps them to develop using play activities.

Your child is entitled to up to 15 hours of Free Entitlement per week or you could be entitled to 30 free hours. This can be taken over a minimum of 2 days of not less than 2.5 hours per day or no more than 10 hours per day, between the hours of 7am and 7pm, for 38 weeks each year. Currently in Kent these 38 weeks are in line with Kent County Council (KCC) school term dates.  

Settings can choose when to allocate their Free sessions.

This funding starts the term following your child's third birthday. You can find out more and which childcare providers offer the service by calling the Kent Children and Families Information Service on 03000412323.

When can my child start?

A child is eligible for the free entitlement in line with the DfE table below:

  • 1 January to 31 March - Start of term beginning in April
  • 1 April to 31 August - Start of term beginning in September
  • 1 September to 31 December - Start of term beginning in January

Where can my child access his/her place?

Your child can access a place at any of the following:

  •  Child minder who is part of an accredited network
  • Pre-school playgroup
  • Independent school
  • Nursery school or nursery class in an infant or primary school including special schools
  • Private day nursery

However, providers must be registered with both OFSTED and Kent County Council to offer the service so please check directly with the provider or call the Kent Children and Families Information Service to find out.

What must I do to claim the Free Early Education funding or to access my child’s free place?

Approach the provider of your choice to request a place if they have availability once you have checked that they are registered with Kent County Council. When you have secured a place, Kent County Council will fund the provider directly.

What if I want more hours than my free entitlement?

If you want your child to have more hours per week you will have to pay the extra cost yourself.

Where can I get more information about the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families has published an information pack and leaflet for parents. This is available from the DfE website.

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