Paying for Early Years Education
The cost of paying for your child’s early years education will vary according to the type of provider you choose and the number of hours of care you require. There is some help available to pay for early years education.
Whatever you earn your child will be able to receive some form of early years education.
Free Early Years EducationAll children in the UK aged three or four are eligible for free part-time education. They can undertake the place in a choice of settings such as:
- With a registered childminder.
- At a preschool or playgroup.
- At a day nursery.
- At a private nursery school.
- At a state nursery school.
- In a nursery class in a primary school.
The only restriction is that the provider must be registered with a government regulatory body. You child will be eligible for five two and a half hour sessions per week, over a 38 week period. Your Local Authority can give you advice on your child’s free early years education place.
If you are on a low income or a lone parent your child may be eligible for a place in a Local Authority nursery. Demand for places is high though, and children must be referred for a place by a social worker or health visitor.
Help From Your EmployerSome employers will provide financial help to enable parents to carry on working.
Childcare voucher schemes operate in some workplaces. This means parents are given paper vouchers to pay for registered childcare. The employer will then deduct the amount paid from the employee’s taxable salary. The first £50 a week is free of tax and national insurance contributions for both employee and employer.
Some large employers offer workplace crèches and nurseries at a subsidised price.Even if they offer no financial help many workplaces now offer flexible and part-time working schemes to enable working parents to manage their time and care provision better.
Tax CreditsWorking tax credit and child tax credit are both means tested and could provide you with help towards paying for your child’s early years education. You Local Authority will be able to advise you on your eligibility to claim tax credits.
Students are eligible for further financial help, such as Child Tax Credit, a Childcare Grant or money from an Access to Learning Fund.
Other Help AvailableMoney may also be available through educational trusts or charities. A student adviser at your university or your Local Authority will be able to advise you on this.
If you are a parent under 20, and want to carry on learning you may be eligible for the Care to Learn scheme or the Sixth Form College Childcare scheme, which can both help with childcare and travel costs while you’re studying.
Early Years Education Which isn’t Free or SubsidisedIf you choose an early years education provider which isn’t government registered such as a nanny, or some independent schools, you won’t be eligible for free or subsidised places for your child. Parents who choose this type of care will usually pay with:
- Loans; or
- From their monthly income
If you send your child to an independent education provider, such as a pre-preparatory school, many offer payment plans to help you spread the costs.