Funding process overview

Early education funding is claimed and paid for on a termly basis over at least two payments per term. See how early education is funded for a breakdown of the payments providers may receive. To receive funding for a child providers must ensure the child and their funded hours are included on the termly Headcount Form.

If a child is not included on the Headcount form, providers will not receive funding for them.

There are four stages to the process. See the provider timeline for specific termly dates.

1. Prior to the start of term providers must submit an estimate form

The information included on the Estimate Form is used to calculate an Advance Payment at the start of term. If an Estimate Form is not submitted by the cut-off date a payment cannot be made.

This payment enables providers to offer funded hours free at the point of delivery, it is not a child level funding claim. Any funding included in this payment which is then not subsequently claimed for on the termly headcount will be included in the termly reconciliation and an invoice will be raised for any overpayments.   

2. During the first half of term providers must submit a Headcount Form to claim the funding

This is a child level claim based on the number of funded hours they are receiving and is an audit of funding claimed. The form must be completed on the Education Portal. There will be approximately a one week window in each term for the Headcount form to be submitted, this is known as the Claim Period. The forms must be submitted before this period closes. 

The Headcount submission is the only opportunity to claim for funding in a term so it must be completed accurately including all funded children and hours. There is a user guide to assist with this. Where providers have any queries with their submission they are advised to contact the Early Education Team before submitting.

When the Headcount has been completed providers must review the submission as soon as possible to ensure that any issues are resolved in advance of the headcount deadline. After this date there are no opportunities to make any ammendments to the headcount. The headcount submission guide details how to check the submission.

The information submitted on the Headcount Form is used to calculate the Claim Payment. Where there is no record of a Headcount  being submitted any Advance Payment will need to be repaid and an invoice will be raised for this. 

3. After half term providers can claim for any 2 year old mid-term joiners who are new to funding after headcount day

To support government priorities new children who are eligible for 2 year old funding can start their place at the start of the second half of term and this is called a 2 Year Old Mid-Term Joiner. It is not available for children who have previously received funding and want to change providers. 

Parents / Carers must complete the 2 year old funding application form and there are two application cut off dates per term, further information is available on places for 2 year olds.

The date the child’s application form is submitted will determine how many funded hours can be claimed for the term. Children claimed for on the Headcount Form can receive a full terms funding.Children who are confirmed as eligible after Headcount Day can receive half a terms funding. 

user guide is available with details of how to make a claim on The Portal. Providers should encourage parent carers to submit their application form in time for the termly headcount submission.

4. Prior to the end of term providers need to check their reconciliation confirmation email 

Towards the end of each term the Early Education Team carry out a reconciliation to ensure that providers have received all the funding that they claimed in the term.

A confirmation email will be sent to each setting confirming the total amount of funding claimed, the total amount of funding paid and the outcome of the reconciliation. Providers must check the information in the email matches their records and any issues should be raised by email with the Early Education team prior to the end of the term.

As the purpose of this task is to check the correct payments have been received there is no opportuity to claim any missing funding. 

If a provider has received more funding than claimed, an invoice will be raised. If a provider has not received all the funding that they have claimed, a payment will be made.  

This termly reconciliation is for base rate funding. Supplement payments are reconciled at the end of the spring term which is the end of the financial year.  

Further information

When the headcount is not submitted

If the Headcount is not submitted by the termly cut-off date there will be no record of any claim for funding in the term. An invoice will be raised for any funding already received in the Advance Payment. The invoice will be raised at the end of term as part of the reconciliation.

There are no other opportunities in the term to submit a funding claim, so it is very important to submit the Headcount in plenty of time before the system closes.

For example, a provider submits their Estimate Form by the cut-off date and receives an Advance Payment. The provider does not submit their termly Headcount Porm by the cut-off date. An invoice will be raised for the full amount of the Advance payment as there is no audit record of the funding requested for each child. 

When the headcount is incorrect

Once the Headcount form has been submitted providers must review the submission. If there are any funding errors on the headcount providers should contact The Early Education Team before the Claim Period closes. 

After this date there are no opportunities to make any amendments to the Headcount. Providers will receive funding for that term based on the information on the submitted Headcount.

Providers must ensure the information is correct before submitting which includes checking that every funded child has been included and that their funded hours and start date are correct. A guide to submitting the Headcount form is available. 

Claiming 2 year old funding

Parents/carers must submit a 2 year old application form. Eligibility is checked by The Early Years Service and eligible families receive a reference number which is used by providers to make a claim for funding on the termly headcount form or through a 2 year old mid term joiner submission.

The Education Portal allows providers to check eligibility for 2 year old funding, however to be able to claim funding for a child a Trafford application form is required, this form captures consent for eligibility checking to be completed.

Where it is not possible for eligibility to confirmed using the DfE checking system The Early Education Team will liaise with the family to establish other criteria options. Providers are advised to not offer any funded hours until they have confirmation a child is eligible. A guide to adding children to the live register is available. 

Claiming 30 hours 

The Education Portal will not allow for a funding claim with a code that is not valid for the term. Children should not be allowed to start in a 30 hours place without a valid code and they cannot start a new 30 hours place if their code is in the grace period. Providers are advised to review the 30 hours guide before checking codes and confirming places to families.

Children joining after headcount submission

Once the Headcount form has been submitted there is no other opportunity to claim for funding in the term. There are no centrally administered funding changes within a term so if a child was not on a provider Headcount the next time they can be claimed for is the start of the following term. Terms start on 1 January, 1 April and 1 September. 

There are two opportunities per term for a 2 year old to start a funded place and there is a separate process to claim for for these children. See above for more details.

Children joining from a different local authority

If a child joins a Trafford provider on or before the termly Headcount day, they can be claimed for on the Headcount form. If a child joins after Headcount day their funded place will begin at the start of the next term. 

Children leaving 

If the child attended the setting on Headcount day and has been included on the termly Headcount form, then the provider is entitled to the funding for the term. If the child moves setting after Headcount day, then the current provider and previous provider can agree to transfer funding between themselves. There are no centrally administered funding changes so the Early Education Team are unable to be involved in this. 

Information for parents / carers

Before parent carers take up a place providers should confirm when their funding will start and agree any additional charges, find more information for parent carers about funded places.