The Department for Education has updated its full range guidance on government-funded early education and childcare for providers and local authorities, including the statutory guidance, the operational guidance, and the model agreement.
The main changes providers should be aware of are summarised below.
- Foster children: From September 2018, children in foster care will also be eligible for the 30 hour extended entitlement, providing they meet the relevant criteria outlined in the annex of the statutory guidance. Foster parents will apply directly to their responsible local authority for 30 hours More details are provided in the operational guidance.
- Parents who apply on time but receive their code late: Local authorities are encouraged to consider securing 30 hours hours for parents who have applied or reconfirmed by the deadline but receive their valid eligibility code after the beginning of the term.
- Notifying parents who are no longer eligible for 30 hours: If providers learn from their local authority that a parent is no longer eligible for 30 hours, they should notify the parents within five working days.
- Taking up a new 30 hour place in the grace period: Children should not start a new 30 hour place at during the grace period. In exceptional circumstances, outlined in the operational guidance, a child may change providers during the grace period.
- Additional charges and disadvantaged parents: Local authorities should ensure that providers are "mindful of the impact of additional charges on the most disadvantaged parents.
- EYPP: Local authorities should ensure that providers and parents are aware that the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) provides additional funding to providers to support disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds in early years settings.
- Compression of 30 hours: Local authorities should ensure that parents and providers are aware that the free entitlement hours cannot be compressed (i.e. a parent cannot take more than 15 or 30 hours per week over fewer than 38 weeks of the year). However, a parent can choose a provider that is open for fewer than 38 weeks of the year and therefore receive 15 or 30 hours a week during fewer weeks.
- Monthly payments: Local authorities should pay all providers the full amount owed to them monthly unless they have good reason not to do so, for example, if, after consultation, the clear majority of providers opt for an alternative method of payment. Local authorities should be mindful of the concerns of smaller providers, particularly childminders, about their cash flow when making decisions about payment methods. Local authorities should regularly review how they pay providers to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of all providers in their area.
- Out of school providers and the EYFS: The operational guidance makes it clear that providers offering care exclusively before and after school or during school holidays for pre-school children do not have to meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). They should be guided by, but do not have to meet, the Learning and Development requirements of the EYFS.
- School providers: State funded schools who have set up nursery provision as a community or charitable service must actively decide whether to register the children as pupils of the school.
- Maintained nursery schools: Maintained nursery schools (MNS) have a particular focus on disadvantaged children and children with additional needs. Decisions about their involvement in the delivery of the 30 hours entitlement should be taken locally. The supplementary funding that is provided to local authorities to enable them to preserve MNS’ pre-Early Years National Funding Formula funding is based on the universal (first) 15 hours. Any involvement in the delivery of the 30 hours entitlement should preserve MNS’s overall focus on the most disadvantaged. If an MNS cannot, or does not want to, offer the full 30 hours entitlement itself, it should consider alternative ways of being involved in its delivery such as partnerships with nearby providers.