Forms of Payment and Funding Sources

Our fees are paid monthly in advance before the 20th of each month and we can provide invoices and statements as needed. We issue fees monthly by taking the weekly amount and multiplying by 51 weeks of the year then dividing by 12. This means we do not charge for the week between Christmas and New Year when we are closed.

The nursery accepts either direct debit or childcare vouchers in settlement of fees, as well as payment from funding sources.

Child Tax Credits

If you have children and you’re on a low income, you could be eligible for Child Tax Credits to help you with the costs of raising a child. The amount you can claim depends on things like:

  • your household income
  • how many children you have living with you
  • whether your child has a disability

If your annual household income is below a certain level, you could be entitled to the maximum amount for each Child Tax Credit element you qualify for. This is called the ‘income threshold’. Anything you earn above that will reduce the amount you can get. To find out more about whether you might qualify please click here.

One issue you need to take into account when looking at tax credits, is whether you might be better off with workplace vouchers and it’s a fine line at certain income thresholds. If you would like to work out whether tax credits or vouchers work better for you then this is a good source of information.

Student Funding for Childcare

Full-time higher education students with children can apply for a Childcare Grant, which helps with childcare costs for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs. You must be eligible to apply, and for further information please click here.

Our fees depend on the age of the child and the session requirements.
Please telephone the Nursery on 01277362211 to obtain more information about the Nursery fees

What is the Early Years Free Entitlement?

Schools and early years providers like ourselves must follow a structure of learning, development and care for children from birth to five years old. This is called the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and it enables your child to learn through a range of structured activities. Ultimately, the EYFS will prepare your child for school.

All three and four year olds and eligible two year olds are entitled to free part-time early years learning until the school term in which they have their fifth birthday. If your child attends a reception class in a local authority school, this counts as their free entitlement. Children of the eligible age are guaranteed a free early years place, but not the right to a free place with a particular early years provider.

Date of your child’s third birthday Funding period in which your child can access EYFE
1st April – 31st August Autumn (1st September)
1st September – 31st December Spring (1st January)
1st January – 31st March Summer (1st April)
   

 

How much Free Early Learning can my Child Receive?

As of September 2012, children are entitled to a maximum of 570 hours of free early learning over 12 months. This is equivalent to 15 hours a week over 38 weeks. Further considerations are:

  • No session can be longer than 10 hours
  • No session can be shorter than 2.5 hours
  • Sessions can’t be taken before 8.00 a.m. or after 6.00 p.m.
  • A maximum of 15 hours a week which must be taken over no fewer than 2 days
  • A maximum of 2 providers at any one time

General Terms for Standalone or Combined EYFE Bookings

There is an 4 week notice period for termination of the booking or any changes to the booking.

If you only wish to access free entitlement, then it is unlikely that you will be able to split attendance over two settings because we require a minimum of 10 hours to be used per week here at our nursery. You may however redeem only 5 funded hours here provided there is a booking for a further 5 paid hours. This means that you could access the balance of the free funding somewhere else if needed.

Billing is provided monthly and will only show extras or additional hours if you are booking standalone hours. For combined hours, invoices will show EYFE extras such as food and drink as well as non EYFE hours. Invoices will also show the amount of free hours provided in any given month.

Whilst the free entitlement is structured for 38 weeks of the year, 15 hours per week, the nursery cannot accept a booking if it is required for term time only. Our booking period is for 50 weeks of the year (we are closed bank holidays and between Christmas and New Year).

Existing children in the nursery who become eligible for the free entitlement are subject to the same EYFE admission criteria as new children joining the nursery.

Existing children in the nursery who become eligible for the free entitlement, and who paid an initial deposit on joining the nursery, will have the deposit refunded within 2 months of the commencement of the entitlement. This only applies to children accessing EYFE hours with no additional charged hours.

How the Funding Works 

We claim the funding from Essex County Council  on your behalf and this is deducted from your monthly bill in advance. Following your child’s 3rd birthday we will send you an EYFE form which provides details about your child and what sessions you are claiming. This also provides details of any other setting that your child may be attending.

Once we have received the funding, we allocate this to your account on a monthly basis in the same way we calculate your monthly fees i.e. we take the amount of free hours being provided over the year and divide by 12. This amount is then deducted from your bill transparently so you only see the net fee for additional hours, extras, food and drink etc. The idea behind this is that for ease of administration and payment, your monthly invoice is a constant figure. Any over or under charging can be smoothed out during the year. 

Are these hours totally free or will I have to pay anything?

The free early learning must be offered free to parents – they should not be asked to:

  • Pay a fee for the basic funded hours
  • Pay in advance for the free hours

Parents and carers will need to pay:

  • For additional hours if the funded hours are offered as part of a longer session
  • For additional services, for example, meals, French lessons or ballet classes.
  • When your child attends more than 15 hours a week
  • For hours that are not covered by the early years provider (e.g. although an early years provider may be open 50 weeks a year, they may only offer Free Early Learning for 38 weeks of the year)
  •  The cost of additional care is a private matter between the early years provider and the parent / carer. You should make sure that you understand how much you will be charged for any additional hours or services before your child starts.

Can my child attend more than one early years provider?

You can split the funding between a maximum of two early years providers, as long as you do not exceed the maximum entitlement. However, some providers may give priority to children who want to take up their full entitlement with that provider. 

Understanding your invoice/statement

Your invoice/statement will clearly show your child’s Free Early Learning hours, along with what you are being charged for any additional hours and services used. Early years providers can charge what they want for additional hours and services.

It is important that you ask early years providers what charges they will make – do not calculate this yourself based on fees for children not receiving the free entitlement. If you have any concerns about, or do not understand your invoice/statement:

  • Make an appointment to see the manager/supervisor so that they can explain your invoice/statement,
  • Contact the FIS (Family Information Service) if you are not satisfied with, or do not understand their explanation.

What Happens if I want Just the Free Entitlement?

A “stand-alone” place refers to the Free Early Learning hours only, being taken at an early years provider. If you want a “stand-alone” place then maintained/local authority nursery schools or classes, many pre-school playgroups and all children’s centre nurseries offer stand-alone hours.

Day nurseries, extended playgroups and child-minders tend to cater for parents who want longer hours but may offer stand-alone places – check with the early years provider.

You cannot be forced to take-up additional provision or services as a condition of accessing the free hours of early learning; however, early years providers are free to set their own admissions criteria and these criteria could include giving preference to children who want additional services.

If you cannot find a stand-alone place, please let the Family Information Service know. They can offer you information on other early years providers that offer this. 

How do I Claim the Free Hours?

At the start of each funding period your early years provider will give you a simple form to complete called parent agreement form.

  • You will be required to sign this as a declaration of your claim at the start of each funding period.
  • You will be asked to confirm the number of hours you are claiming from that early years provider and state how many hours (if any) you are claiming from another early years provider.
  • Funding for your child’s hours is then paid directly to your early years provider(s) and your bill will be reduced accordingly.

If your child joins later in the funding period, a late application can be made. If you move your child mid-term the funding will be redistributed between the old and new early years providers.