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Early education funding - headcount tasks and payments explained

A headcount task is the way in which a childcare provider can make a claim for funded children.  It is only possible to add or remove children, or update hours, when a task is open.  This is done through the Early Years Provider Portal.  Once a task is submitted the information is used to calculate payments.

Providers who have submitted a headcount will be paid in accordance with the Term Tasks and Payment Dates: April 2021 - Sept 2022 - Staffordshire County Council.  If providers fail to submit a task or submit not an accurate claim, it will mean that payments will be delayed.

There are three types of task for each of the three terms:

Forecast headcount task

The Forecast headcount task is submitted towards the end of the term prior to which it applies i.e. end of Summer term ready for the Autumn term.

Providers can enter on this task all the children that are currently booked in with them for a funded place.  They can also put on end dates for children who will be leaving before the new term starts.

Depending on the Providers chosen payment option, a payment of 75% of term's estimated claim will be made as per the payment schedule.  Payment option 1 as a lump sum, or payment option 2 (monthly), paid in three equal payments.

Providers who fail to submit a Forecast task will be able to submit an Actual task. However, payments will be delayed to the end of term.

Actual headcount task

The Actual headcount task is submitted a few weeks into the term in which the actual attendance for the term is recorded as known at that time. 

Children who started after the Forecast need to be included in the Actual task.  Providers can also add leaving dates to children who have either left during the start of term or did not start as expected.

It is at this stage that the early years funding team (EEF) will identify any over claim of hours, where for example, settings claiming for the same children (shared funding) or where the child has reached their maximum yearly entitlement. Providers are required to ensure that the information that they submit is accurate, and that they have in place the relevant completed and signed version of the parental declaration and privacy notice before adding children or updating hours onto their claim. 

A balancing payment is then made of the remaining amount owed (i.e, term payment less the amount paid for the forecast task, if applicable, as well as to any changes made by the EEF team).

Providers who submitted a forecast but fail to submit an Actual task will be able update their claim at the first Amendment headcount task. 

Amendment headcount task

There are two amendment headcount tasks.

The first Amendment headcount task will be issued to all Providers prior to the term finishing, accept for Spring term, the task will be issued in April. 

This allows Providers to finalise their final claim for the term (changes that were missed or changed after the Actual task closed), and payment (or reclaim in most cases) will made when the payment falls due.

The final Amendment headcount task is available on request after the production of the final term funding statement (based on the first amendment task). 

Providers requiring a final amendment task are required to email the EEF team with their request prior to the scheduled task date.  

It is the Authority's intention to close the term after the final Amendment headcount task and requests to amend claims after the final amendment will be subject to special consideration.

Funding

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to universal early education entitlement of 570 hours per their yearly entitlement.  Children become eligible for funding the term after turning 3 years old.  Parents are eligible for the funded hours up to and including the term a child turns 5 years old if they have not entered Reception. 

The extended entitlement for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds is for an additional 570 hours per year (maximum total of 1,140 hours – universal plus extended), based on qualifying criterion being met.

Eligible 2 year olds (Think 2 Funding) are also entitled to 570 hours per year, starting from the term after turning 2 years old.  

The ‘standard’ offer is over 38 weeks split into funding periods, but providers can offer a ‘stretched place’ between 39 – 52 weeks (i.e. instead of 30 hours over 38 weeks, a stretched offer could be 23 hours, 45 mins per week over 48 weeks).

In Staffordshire providers can offer to claim the 'standard' hours over 38 weeks, at 15 hours per week (or 30 hours if the child is entitled to extended hours) or draw down the 'stretched' offer over 48 weeks at 12 hours per week (or 24 if the child is entitled to extended hours).  The extra 6 to 12 hours on 'stretched' funding will be deducted from their child's third term, if the child remains to take up a 'stretched' place throughout their yearly entitlement.

Changing from Stretch to Term Time (or vice versa)

Parents can only change from '38 weeks' to a 'stretched offer' (or vice versa) at the beginning of a term.  Providers should keep track of funding used when changing from 'stretched' to '38 weeks' funding as this could mean a child uses the their annual entitlement early and before the end of their third term in the year. This is because the total of '38 weeks' or 'term time' hours during Autumn and Spring are far greater than the total of 'stretched' hours, whereas the total of 'stretched' hours during Summer are greater than the total of '38 week / term time offer' hours.

Claims cannot exceed the maxiumum 570 hours entitlement (or 1140 hour for 30 hours) in a 12 month period.

Example: This would most likely occur when a child has accessed the full entitlement as 'stretched' (20 weeks) in summer term and then moves to a '38 week' / 'term time' offer in autumn (either with the same setting or moves to another) which is 14 weeks. In this example, a child who has been accessing the maximum entitlement in summer and autumn will likely have only 8 weeks worth of funding left to use in spring term (instead of the normal 11 weeks). See our Provider FAQs for funded places

Both the ‘38 week’ and ‘stretched’ offers fit into funding periods with maximum hours that can be claimed in each period. 

 

Any unused hours cannot be carried forward or banked for the following funding period.    

Funding Periods are as follows:

  • Spring term - 'Standard' 11 Weeks ('Stretched' - 12 Weeks) - 1 January to 31 March 

  • Summer term - 'Standard' 13 Weeks ('Stretched' - 20 Weeks) - 1 April to 31 August 

  • Autumn term - 'Standard' 14 Weeks ('Stretched' - 16 Weeks) - 1 September to 31 December 

Please note that the 38 weeks offer does not have to fall in line with the school term weeks and can be supplied during school holidays.

For more information, visit our Overview - Staffordshire County Council webpage.

For further information, please phone the EEF Finance Team on 01785 854009 or email at: eefportal@staffordshire.gov.uk

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