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Funded early education entitlement for three to four-year-olds

The funded early education entitlement (FEEE) is a government programme. It gives all three to four-year-olds up to 15 hours of funded early education per week. This is a total of 570 hours per year over 38 weeks during term time.

You may allow parents to use fewer hours per week over a longer period, for example up to 52 weeks. Also known as a stretched offer. 

This funding comes from central government to Essex County Council. We set the funding rates and make payments to you. No direct payments are ever made to parents.


This is a universal offer for all three and four-year-olds. Funding can start from the term after their third birthday. It can continue up to compulsory school age or when parents register their child for a maintained school place or academy class.

Offering the universal funded entitlement

Your setting may offer this funding if:

  • it is a nursery or preschool
  • you are a childminder or you are with a childminding agency
  • it is a school or academy

If you are a childminder you cannot use the funding to look after children of your own family. For example you are the parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle.

Your setting needs to:

  • be registered with Ofsted
  • have an Ofsted judgement of outstanding, good or requires improvement
  • have a separate dedicated bank account
  • have a funding contract with Essex County Council (ECC)
  • be on the internet and have an email account

New providers

If you have only just registered with Ofsted you can offer the FEEE before your first inspection. If the outcome of your inspection is inadequate you will not be able to continue to offer the FEEE.

Applying for a contract

If you meet all the requirements above, you can apply for a contract.

  1. You need to fill in an early years provider registration form.
  2. We will check the details you give in your form.
  3. If approved we will send you a contract.
  4. You need to sign and return the contract to us before funding can start.

Next steps

After you send us your signed contract you will need to:

Parent / carer agreement forms

This is your contract with the child's parents or carers. They must fill in a new form each term. It explains things like:

  • how parents or carers will take up their entitlement
  • the stretched offer for the term
  • extra charges and fees they may have to pay

From time to time we will ask to see these forms so you will need to keep them in a safe place.


We will pay you 50 per cent of your funding at the start of each term. This is based on the data collected near the end of the previous term. We aim to pay you the balance within six weeks of the headcount submissions deadline. 

See details of when to submit headcount data to us.

Term dates 2023 to 2024

You can only claim FEEE for the number of weeks specified between the school term dates. These make up the 38 funded weeks in the 2022 to 2023 financial year.

Term Inclusive term dates Duration of FEEE Equivalent in hours
Summer 2023 17 April 2023 to 21 July 2023 13 weeks 13 weeks x 15 hours = 195 hours
Autumn 2023 4 September 2023 to 15 December 2023 14 weeks 14 weeks x 15 hours = 210 hours
Spring 2024 8 January 2024 to 28 March 2024 11 weeks 11 weeks x 15 hours = 165 hours

School Deferral - Reception

Many children would have received the offer of their school place to start reception in September. Some parents may be considering deferring their child’s school place until they reach statutory school age the term after their 5th birthday. In order to support this decision please discuss with parents the 'points to consider' document.

If a parent still would like to their child to remain in an early years provision and not to start reception in September, please complete a deferral form for each child. All schools and providers are required to submit a Deferral Form.

The Parent Agreement Form should not be completed for any children that should be starting reception in September before submitting a deferral form.

When a deferral form has been received and reviewed we will confirm the Funding Entitlement for the term/terms.

Information relating to delayed and deferred entry can be found in the Schools Admission brochure for this year, so please ensure parents are aware of the information.

Relevant resources

Please email for a copy of the FEEE provider handbook.

Contact us

For three to four-year olds funding general enquiries and headcount submissions email

For contract enquiries email