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Free Place Funding


Steve
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A number of members have posted recently regarding changes in their LEA policy on Nursery Education Funding - ie the free 2.5 hour provision for all 3-5 year olds.

 

Although the guidance is prepared by the DfES SureStart unit, LEAs are given much freedom to interpret it in a way that best suits their own requirements.

 

This year a number of LEAs seem to have insisted that settings, in order to be eligible for the funding, have to offer the free place to All children whose parents require it. (Previously most required only that one core free place was provided for each setting).

 

This has the obvious implication that settings open for longer than 2.5 hours, which charge a correspondingly higher fee and then subtract the LEA funding from that fee, may have a number (possibly, though very unlikely all) of parents demanding the basic free place.

 

We'd be interested in hearing from any members who have previously mentioned this to us, and also from anyone else we've not yet heard from, as we have begun to discuss the issue with the SureStart unit. It would be helpful if you could let us know the LEA in question, and also quote from any documentation you have been sent which explicitly states their position.

 

You're welcome to PM the information to me if you'd rather not make it visible in the forum. :)

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Hi Steve,

All I can offer on this at present is that in my area (Nottingham City) there exists an excellent partnership, where all providers are given equal importance and opportunities. If our DN offers a grant funded place, it runs from 9.00 till 11.30 am or 1.00 till 3.30 pm. This is totally free to the parents, with no contract (other than the mandatory parent signature on the Grant form), registration fee or money 'upfront'. If a parent requires more in the way of care, it is regarded as a different contract, and our normal conditions apply, but only to anything outside the chosen core times.

 

Any use?

 

Sue :D

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Hi Sue -

That sounds fine. But what are the normal 'half-day' (ie single session) times? Are they 2.5 hours or more (most half-days would be around 4 hours I guess)?

 

And don't you claim the grant for every eligible child (between 3-5) even where they take a session longer than the 2.5 hours which the grant covers? And then charge a separate fee for the balance of time (up to four or however many hours)?

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Not sure if its what you are after Steve but in our pre-school all parents get a termly bill. Fees are totalled for sessions attended and lunches and then the grant deducted leaving a balance payable.

 

All parents know that the "free" five sessions does not mean they can attend 5 mornings and pay nothing as we do not run to school terms. It works well and we have no problems. Some parents prefer to pay lunch money daily rather than a bill at the end of term and thats fine its just recorded and lunches not included on the bill.

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Steve in my area a 4 hour session is considered to be 'wrap-around-care'. A normal session is 2.5 hours paid by N.E.G. Anything extra to the norm. has to be paid for by parents. I have operated a lunch club at a cost of £1.50 per day to parents paid on a termly basis. If I was to open for 4 hrs I would charge parents £3. per day. My early years team are always visiting me to ask me to consider opening for longer hours which I have done twice and received about £8,000 in all. I may consider opening for 2 full days as I need some money for a new garden now I have changed premises. My business plan can only be calculated on parents contribution.

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Thanks Bubble. :)

 

The settings I'm I am particularly interested to hear from are the ones really geared up for longer standard sessions (eg 4 hours), where the opening hours and staffing levels assume that parents will bring their children for a full session.

 

The grant is then taken for the first 2.5 hours, and the parents are charged the difference between the grant and the cost of the full 4 hour session.

 

Does that make sense? In those cases, in order to provide sufficient free 3-5 year old places, many LEAs specify that one 'core' place must be provided by each setting in order to qualify the setting for nursery funding.

 

Geraldine, your setting sounds like it operates in exactly that way?

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Hi there, Steve,

Sorry if I wasn't completely clear in my post.

Our normal 'sessions' are either 8-1, or 1-6 (with the option of an extra half hour either end of the day; ie 7.30 start OR 6.30 finish. If parents want both, they pay for both; which has to be booked and is charged as an extra). The example I quoted was for those parents who have chosen to mostly just have 'free' sessions. We have a very good reputation in the area and many parents choose this option who do not actually require childcare, but want their child to have a pre-school experience. Unfortunately MANY of the pre-school playgroups within the city have closed over the last few years, so this type of provision is the only real alternative for parents who choose not to use maintained Nurseries, or whose school does not have one. Of the families who come to us for childcare anyway, once the child becomes eligible for the grant, in our accounting they are buying 'wraparound care' in term-time, so they receive the funding as a discount on their fees, at the current rate of the value of however many sessions are covered. Some of our children on reaching eligibility do, however, use the local Maintained Nursery Unit, so only pay for the early care with breakfast and taking to school, followed by collection from school at the end of the nursery session, with lunch and their afternoon. If a child has an afternoon nursery place, they are taken to school after lunch and then collected at the end of the session along with other After-school children.

Additionally, parents can reach their own, personally tailored agreements with us, with their own payment 'foibles'. :o

 

Confused?? Fees can be a NIGHTMARE, so glad I no longer have to do them :(

 

If you need clarification there, just shout up xD

 

Sue :D

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Steve,

My LEA is Kent.

I run an extended hours preschool- hours are 8:45 - 15:15.

Parents can choose a variety of sessions.

am only 8:45-11:45 (3hrs)

am and lunch 8:45-12:45 (4hrs)

lunch and pm 11:15-15:15 (4hrs)

lunch only 12:15-15:15 (3 hrs)

all day 8:45-15:15 (6 hrs)

 

My fees are £6:60 per 3 hr session ( or £2:20 ph)

lunch is charged at £2:20 ( 1 hr)

 

although my fees are less than the 'grant' payment the balance is not used to subsidise 'care' costs, I had a lengthy discussion with Peter from DFES who said the grant money should only be used for the 2.5 hr 'education' period.

 

A child ( of eligable age) who attends a 3 hour session ( either am or pm) is therefore charged for the extra half hour @ £1.10.

 

I invoice parents on a termly basis ( as I cannot post an excell doc below is an example invoice)

 

Invoice No: 135(childs No:) - AUT 04

Childs Name: Ann Smith

Term dates: w/c 6.9.04 - 17.12.04 ( half term w/c 25th October)

Period: 14 weeks

 

QTY ----------------------- DESCRIPTION -------...........................- UNIT PRICE -------.......------ TOTAL

8 ........................sessions per week(3 hrs)

4 ...................... lunches per week

112 .....................Total sessions per term

60........................Total government funded (2.5 hrs).................FREE.............................FREE

52........................Total unfunded sessions @.........................£6.60 = ....................... £343.20

60........................Total 1/2 hr unfunded part of sessions@ ........ £1.10 =........................£ 66.00

56........................Total lunches @...................................... £2.20=.........................£123.20

 

...................................................................................................TOTAL DUE £532.40

 

The grant is for 12 wks ( 5 X 12 = 60) because Spring Term 05 is only 10 wks.

My invoices are set up on excell so the calculations are done automatically.

Parents can pay weekly, monthly, half termly or the whole term.

 

Parents can also choose to send their child for only 2.5 hrs per session ( although no-one has chosen this option yet)

 

I show the grant -unit cost as free, however a parent did ask if I was paid £7.75 per session from the government and why was the balance of £1.15 not used for the 1/2 hr period. I explained that as I have been told, the 'grant' is not a fee, it is the cost that the government has decided that is needed to 'educate' each eligable child for a period of 2.5 hrs. I explained that the cost for 'education' (additional to care) is higher than our normal fees because of staff planning costs, resources, training etc.

 

A place is offered to all eligable children who's parents want one (I am able to offer the maximum of 5 because I do not have a waiting list) My capacity goes down to 50% each September because of local school intakes It increases throughout the year as the children become of eligable age and they increase their sessions. I take children from age 2 yrs. If I did have a waiting list I would have to rethink my admissions policy to ensure all eligable children are offered a place.

 

I hope this answers your question, it is a total nightmare to administer the governments regulations with regard to FREE education. especially if a child attends less than the 5 maximum sessions.

In Summer Term 04 our LEA would fund a place for 11 weeks pro rata, therefore if a child attended 4 sessions they were entitled to a total of 44 for a term.

 

Now the LEA has what it calls ' flexibility and integration' (additional payments for children attending less that 5 sessions per week). For a 14 week term a child attending 4 sessions per week, we recieve a grant for 52 sessions ( 14 wks x 4 = 56 maximum grant is 55 (5x11) so they pay 13 x 4 = 52)

 

I think they should include a 'higher maths unit' on all our Childcare & Education courses!!!!!!!!

or better still the government should pay direct to each provision a set amount per year, at the beginning of each year, decided on registered number of children: I am registered for 32 children, X amount per child x 32 x 39 weeks ( school year).

Of course they would have to change legislation etc. The amount saved for not having to pay admin costs at LEA level would be vast. Also considering the education is encompassed in the care, ( Birth to three & Foundation Stage) this would, I think meet government strategies for integrated care and education (educare).

I would also know exactly how much income per year to enable budgeting for all children in my setting. Oh for a simple life.

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Hi Peggy -

Crikey - that's a full and comprehensive reply - many thanks! :D

 

Don't worry about the bill format it's quite clear. Although just for future reference, I've updated the forum so it should now allow Excel attachments to be posted.

 

Thanks again Peggy!

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