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Funded Early Education Entitlement (FEEE)

Please read our COVID-19 guidance below.


What is Funded Early Education?

Children studying together3 and 4-year-olds
All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to a funded, part-time early education place. This means your child will be eligible for up to 15 hours of funded early education a week, across a minimum of 38 weeks of the year. In St Helens, your child can take up their funded early education entitlement (FEEE) at a local authority-maintained school nursery or class, at a private nursery or playgroup or with a childminder.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for funded 15 hours' childcare. The criteria for accessing this for your 2-year-old is stated below. As with 3 and 4-year-olds, up to 15 hours per week over a minimum of 38 weeks per year is available, depending on your family circumstances, with nurseries, playgroups or childminders.

To be eligible to receive a funded early education place for your 2-year-old, you will need to meet one or more of the following criteria.

Your 2-year-old can get free childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • tax credits, and your household income ifs £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run-on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

 2-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have a statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get disability living allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if you household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

  •  leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  •  the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of the British citizen (known as a Zambrano Carer)

Confused about which of your benefits and tax credits can be used with your childcare? This guide should help!

You can search for providers of free early education using our online directory.

You can search for childcare providers via our online directory and can express an interest with them, regardless of the age of your child, by taking the following steps:

  1. Search for a childcare provider.
  2. Express an interest with the providers you are interested in by clicking the tick symbol on the top right-hand side of the provider information.

  3. You will be invited to either create or log in to your account. 

  4. You then complete your details, tick the child you are expressing an interest for and click 'Register Interest'.

  5. The provider will then get in touch via your chosen method of contact.


Your child turns 2 between:

You can apply for a place:

Your child will start their funded place:

1 April - 31 August 1 April - 31 August 1 September (Autumn Term)
1 September - 31 December 1 September - 31 December 1 January (Spring Term)
1 January - 31 March 1 January - 31 March 1 April (Summer Term)

You may use the 15 hours flexibly over the week, within the following parameters:

  • Sessions can be taken on any day of the week, including weekends
  • Sessions can be no longer than 10 hours
  • Sessions must be between 6.00am and 8.00pm
  • Sessions can be used at a maximum of 2 different sites in a single day

Please remember that providers may not be able to offer exactly what you want, however, providers should listen to your needs and try to adapt the delivery of their sessions to accommodate you in a way that will allow them to continue as a viable business.

If your child attends with a childcare provider for more additional hours than what you are entitled to be funded, then you will be required to pay additional costs. For example, if your child attends a day nursery full-time for 5 days a week, then you will only receive your 15 funded hours and will have to pay the nursery for the remaining hours. Parents need to be aware that they can also expect to pay reasonable costs for any meals, consumables or additonal activities offered by their childcare provider alongside their entitlement. The funding is intended to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of high quality, flexible childcare only.

Childcare settings claim funding directly from the Local Authority, in order to give your child a free early education place. You will not receive any monies or vouchers. How to secure a place for your child will depend upon how you want to access the funding. Generally, to access a place with a Maintained provider you will need to complete the Local Authority’s application form included in the Nursery Education Booklet.

All of our private, voluntary and Independent registered childcare providers are listed in our directory of providers. You will need to choose a provider from the directory when you create your account with us and express an interest with them. The provider and you will liaise between yourselves via your secure council account before both accepting that your place is confirmed. Once your place is secure, the childcare provider will ask you to complete a Parental Contract and at that point you will be asked to provide a copy of your child's identification, such as birth certificate or passport to prove their eligibility.

Families who are applying for, or who have applied for a place in a school nursery via admissions, do not need to create a local authority account as your place will be confirmed directly by the local authority admissions team.

For 3 & 4-year-olds, your childcare provider will automatically deduct the funded 15 hours from your existing / new childcare bill. If you are at all unsure, you can contact your childcare provider.

However, you do need to apply for a funded 15 hours 2-year-old place, which you can do online. Please ensure you have checked the eligibility criteria before applying.

Internet access is available at all St Helens libraries if you need it, however, if you you are experiencing difficulties in applying online, then please contact the FEEE Team on 01744 676541 / 676542 / 676557 and we will carry out the check for you and give you an immediate response.

Universal Credit
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit and apply but are told you are not eligible, we may need to carry out a manual check. In order to do this, we will need the last 3 online/paper statements proving what your 'take home pay' has been in those 3 periods.
Parents are now allowed to earn any more than £3,850.00 over the 3 month assessment period, with a maximum annual earning per household of £15,400.00.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are caring for a Looked After Child or your child is in receipt of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or has left care through adoption, special guardianship order or is subject to a child arrangement order, then please DO NOT apply online as you will automatically qualify and do not require a check. Simply contact the FEEE Team on 01744 676541 / 676542 / 676557.

A chatty child is a happy child, so Tiny Happy People is here to help you develop your child's communication skills through simple interaction and play. It has been developed as part of the Department for Education's speech, language and communication programme.