Information for parents and carers

The Government provides a free entitlement for all three and four year old children to attend an early years provider, starting the term after the child's 3rd birthday.  This is called the Early Years Entitlement. The entitlement is designed to be flexible so you can choose where you want your child to attend and what hours they will attend (subject to availability).

All providers can now offer funding for up to 15 hours early years provision each week.  A small number may offer less than this if they are not able to open for a full 15 hours per week.  The entitlement is for regular attendance agreed between the parent and provider.

Your chosen provider will give you the necessary forms to claim the funding and they are responsible for sending these forms back to the Local Authority. The funding for your child's hours is then paid directly to the provider.

All children become eligible for this funding at the start of the term after their 3rd birthday.  Terms are split into the traditional 3 academic periods September-December, January-March and April-August.

A child born between:

   Will be eligible for free entitlement:

1st April and 31st August

   From the following 1st September

1st September and 31st December

   From the following 1st January

1st January and 31st March

   From the following 1st April

Finding a childcare provider

In Bath and North East Somerset, there are over 90 private or voluntary run providers where your child can attend, and also some childminders and school nursery classes (but not all). These providers, along with details of their provision, can be obtained from the Bathnes 1 Big Database You should contact the individual provider yourself to check availability and what they are able to offer you.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Early Years Entitlement worth and what period does it cover?

All providers can offer up to 15 hours early years provision each week for up to 38 weeks a year.

If your provider is open for less than 38 weeks, the total number of weeks paid will be reduced to match the total number of weeks they are open.

If your provider is open for more than 38 weeks, your provider may choose to spread the full entitlement of hours over more weeks.

Can my child attend more than one provider?

If the child attends 2 providers, the parent should declare on the form how many hours they want to claim at both providers. This will also apply for children attending one provider in B&NES and a second provider in another authority.

Can I use a provider that is located outside the boundaries of Bath and North East Somerset?

Yes, you can. You must make your claim for your child's attendance in Bath and North East Somerset and declare on your form what other provision your child attends. Your chosen provider in the other authority will also require a similar claim form to be filled out and signed. The entitlement will then be split between the 2 providers.

However, you should be aware that other authorities' funding entitlements may not be available at the time Bath and North East Somerset allocations are made, so adjustments to your Bath and North East Somerset funding may be necessary later in the term.

What happens if my child switches providers in the middle of a term?

If you have not claimed the maximum entitlement, any unused hours could be claimed by your new chosen provider.

Any transfer of your free entitlement already paid is at the discretion of the old provider and their local terms and conditions. Many have a notice period during which they are entitled to keep any funding they have received for a child.

You should discuss this with your provider. The providers may negotiate with each other as to whether they wish to retain or transfer funding in respect of your child. However, any decision regarding transferring the funding is at the provider's discretion and cannot be enforced by Bath and North East Somerset.

Is there any flexibility for children with special educational needs?

Bath and North East Somerset recognises that some children with special educational needs may require additional support during their early education. Please contact the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at the provision your child attends for further information.

How do I get funding for my child?

At the start of the term after your child's birthday (or any time after this when you want to start claiming), ask your provider for a new starter form (EYE2 form). The form should be fully completed, signed and handed to your provider with a copy of your child's birth certificate. This only needs to be completed once for any child attending a provider.

At the start of each subsequent term (September, January and April), you will be asked to sign a pre-populated form to confirm the number of hours your child is attending. You MUST sign each term to confirm your child's attendance for the entitlement to be paid.

What hours can I use the entitlement for?

The forms submitted to us will ask you to confirm the total number of hours your child attends and the number of days they attend. There is a minimum of 2 and a half and a maximum of 10 hours which can be taken in any one day, but your provider may structure their day to designate "core" hours during which the entitlement can be taken.

In order to clain the full 15 hour entitlement (where applicable), your child must attend on 2 or more days. If your child attends for more than the maximum entitlement, the provider must clarify on any bill your free entitlement and additional hours for which fees are due.

What happens if my child changes the number of hours they attend?

If your child's hours have changed at the start of a term, this can simply be noted on the pre-populated form with a confirmation signature. If your child changes part way through a term, ask your provider for an amendment form (EYE3 form) to confirm the change. The completed form should be handed to your provider.

Further information

  • Providers cannot charge you any additional fee for the funded hours, although any extras could be billed for e.g. meals, snacks.
  • If your child attends more than the maximum entitlement per week, your provider is entitled to charge you for the extra hours.
  • If the provider's term is longer than 38 weeks, they are entitled to charge you for the extra weeks.
  • Your provider's fee policy should clearly state the charge for all additional hours offered.

Note - The value and payment of fees for sessions not funded by the Early Years Entitlement is a matter between the parent and provider.

For further information, please see our up to date information sheet in the documents section.

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