Oxfordshire Country Council runs two schemes which may fund your child’s place at Playgroup:
- The Nursery Education Fund ensures three and four year olds can access foundation stage education.
- Parents may be eligible for 15 hours free early education funding for their two year old.
Nursery Education Fund (for 3 and 4 year olds)
The Government aims to ensure that children between the ages of 3 and 5 have access to a good quality Foundation Stage education. Eligible children have a right to 5 free 3-hour sessions of pre-school education a week for at least 38 weeks a year. In Oxfordshire the Nursery Education Grant scheme is administered by Early Years Education at the Local Authority. To calculate Nursery Education Grant payments, the local authority uses the traditional three term year, Autumn, Spring and Summer terms and not the six term school year.
In the term after your child has turned three, you are eligible to apply for the Nursery Education Grant from the Oxfordshire Local Authority. Eligibility Example: If your child was born on the 5th January 2010, you cannot claim Nursery Education Grant for the Spring Term 2013, but you will be eligible to start claiming from the start of the Summer Term.
Documentation is sent before the start of each term to the Supervisor who will request information from parents of eligible children in order to make a claim on behalf of the playgroup. The Local Authority now maintains an electronic database and the Supervisor is sent a list of children receiving the grant every term.
Parental Declaration Form
Parents will receive a declaration form from the Supervisor on the first day of term. This form asks parents/caregivers to declare how many sessions their child will claiming through St Peter’s Under 5s group and if their child attends another provider. When you have completed this form, the Playgroup Supervisor or Treasurer will need to check the legal first and last names and the date of birth against your child’s birth certificate or passport and complete the bottom part of the Parental Declaration form. This form needs to be returned before the Early Years Count Day. The Playgroup keeps a copy of this form on file in case there are subsequent disputed claims.
Early Years Count Day
The Local Authority nominate a Count Day, generally the second Thursday of the new term. All eligible children registered and attending the playgroup will be entered on the claim form to be sent to the Local Authority after Count Day. If your child joins the playgroup after the Count Day, you are not eligible to claim the grant as the grant cannot be paid retrospectively. You will therefore have to pay full session fees to the playgroup.
Early education funding (for 2 year olds)
If your child is two, and you have a household income under the threshold, you may qualify for up to 15 hours free early education each week. Free early education can be taken at approved childcare providers (such as St Peter’s Playgroup) where children will access good quality early years education. The grant will cover the entire session fee for St Peter’s Playgroup, although there’s no guarantee of getting a place. Eligible children are able to start from the term after their second birthday (based on a three term year). If funding is approved, it will continue, even if your circumstances change, until the term after the child’s 3rd birthday when other funding is available.
How to apply
Our local authority has experienced significant problems with the online application system for two year old funding and has made the decision to revert back to postcards for a limited period, although the online solution is still available at Oxfordshire County Council Citizen Portal.
For a January 2016 start, eligible parents will receive a postcard which will include a 7 digit reference number and a space for the parents to write their details. Parents need to bring the completed postcard to St Peter’s Playgroup a week before Friday 11th December 2015. After the 11th December, the postcards will no longer be valid and parents would need to apply online via the portal. You will also need to complete a parental declaration form.
You can also call the Family Information Service.
If you have used the online system you will have a Two Year Old Funding Voucher containing a reference number. Send this reference number with your name and address to the Treasurer at email@example.com . When your child’s place is confirmed with us, we will call the funding team at Oxfordshire County Council and need to quote your reference number. This must be done during the term before the child is due to start.
We will also require you to sign a parental agreement every term and will need to see proof of the child’s age (child’s birth certificate) and your address.
Change of hours
Hours can be changed at the beginning of a term, based on six terms. Notification to Oxfordshire Country Council of a change in hours needs to be made before the start of term. Therefore, changes need to be agreed and notified to the Playgroup treasurer before the end of the previous term.
Additional information can be found on the Oxfordshire County Council web pages
Or by contacting the Oxfordshire Family Information Service on 08452 262636 (local rate).