Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for Early Learning and Childcare providers: Principles and practice

The earliest years of life are crucial for every child. Evidence tells us that early learning and childcare (ELC) must be of high quality if it is to help children succeed and contribute to closing the poverty-related gap in children’s outcomes.

That it is why quality remains at the heart of the expansion of funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds.

The Funding Follows the Child approach is being introduced as part of the expansion of ELC. It is underpinned by a National Standard that all providers delivering funded ELC will have to meet regardless of whether they are in the public, private (including childminders) or third sector. This will provide reassurance to parents and carers that any provider offering funded ELC will be able to offer their child a high quality ELC experience.

The approach also places choice in parents' and carers' hands, enabling them to access their child's funded entitlement from any provider that meets the new National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter into a contract with their local authority.

To take account of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic interim guidance has been designed to support local authorities and providers to deliver of as much of the National Standard as possible and to highlight where flexibility may be required.