Delivering free childcare and education for 2 year olds

Early years funding network events were held in June to provide information to childcare providers as to how funding will be delivered from September 2017.

There will be additional early years funding network events organised over the coming weeks and we will provide additional information on the early years bulletin when the dates have been finalised.

The presentation document for the network events is below:

Register to deliver funded places or change your payment details

We have changed the process of how we receive information from childcare providers. You may use our new online form to:

  • Register to deliver funded places.
    • If you are already registered for free childcare and education for 2 year olds but you wish to register for free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds or 30 hour free childcare, you will need to complete this section.
    • You do not have to re-register for 30 hour free childcare if you already offer free entitlement but you do still need to ensure that you have completed an annual provider agreement.
  • Complete the annual provider agreement.
    • The annual provider agreement must be completed to continue receiving early years funding.
  • Update your bank details.
Complete the online form

Checking eligibility

Any family living in Northamptonshire can now use the Online Eligibility Checker (OEC) to find out if they are eligible for funding. They can then use the reference number provided to reserve a childcare place.

The Online Eligibility Checker issues a reference number (beginning with AF) for all checks made, including those that are not eligible, so it is extremely important that you check that the reference number is:

  • a reference number confirming eligibility for funding
  • still valid - that the reference number hasn't expired

Childcare providers are expected to check the eligibility of all reference numbers given to them. If a place is offered to a family and the reference number is not eligible, no claim for funding can be made and no funding claim will be paid.

The reference number is active for 6 weeks. A parent or carer must have it checked within 6 weeks of issue by a childcare provider and reserve a place even if the child cannot start immediately; the childcare provider will keep the reference number.

If no place is found or reserved within 6 weeks the number will expire and the parent must obtain a new reference number by using the OEC again.

How do I check the validity of the reference number?

To check the reference number obtained by a parent or carer, you will need to use the eligibility checker tool.

How do I receive payment for a free childcare place? 

Funding rate for 2017/18

The free childcare and education for 2 year olds funding rate has been finalised for the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year and has been set at £5.10 per hour.

Information on the hourly funding rates and supplements for free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds (FE) is available on the free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds web page.

Headcount day information

All early years funding can be claimed on a monthly basis from September 2017. There will continue to be a headcount date on the first month of each of the 3 funding blocks, and it is expected that most children will be claimed for in the month that the main headcount sits. The form will be opened every month following so that providers can add new children or remove children that have left.

For information on headcount dates and the dates that forms will be open, please see the document below:

Registered providers can make their monthly headcount claims by logging into the provider portal and completing their headcount claims. 

If you have any enquiries regarding the provider portal and the headcount claims, please view the frequently asked questions document below:

Please use the below guidance document for information on how to use the provider portal:

Other information regarding funding claims will be made available in the Early Years Bulletin.

Parental declaration

Below is the  parental declaration that acts as the contract between the family and the provider of the free childcare for 2 year olds, the free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds and 30 hours free childcare.

Please note: The privacy notice must be viewed by the parent or ​carer before they sign the parental declaration.

If you require assistance regarding the parental declaration, please do not hesitate to contact us at

How do I make a discretionary place referral for 2 year olds?

All fully completed referral forms must be submitted to by Thursday of every week. The approval date is every Friday, where places are granted and emails are sent out to the referring professional.

For more information on submitting a referral form for a SEND discretionary place, please see the higher needs eligibility criteria additional information document above.

For further information regarding the early years descriptors, SEND and high needs block, please visit the High Needs Funding information page. 

To find a list of childcare providers or childminders please see our Children and Families Service Finder.

Further support and guidance

Free childcare for 2 year olds - guide for providers

The guide below for childcare providers can be used when claiming free childcare for 2 year olds:

Free childcare for 2 year olds poster

To promote the free childcare and education for 2 year olds in your childcare setting, please download the poster below:

Statutory guidance - early years and childcare code of practice

The county council is bound by the statutory guidance - code of practice. These guidelines are issued to all local authorities by the Department for Education (DfE) on the delivery of the free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Childcare sufficiency assessment

The authority completed an initial report on the sufficiency of childcare in the county in 2011.

The 2014 update is available to view below:

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