Delivering free childcare and education for 2 year olds

How do I check if a child should receive funding?

Any family living in Northamptonshire can now use the Online Eligibility Checker (OEC) to find out if they are eligible for funding. They can then use the reference number provided to reserve a childcare place.

The Online Eligibility Checker issues a reference number (beginning with AF) for all checks made, including those that are not eligible, so it is extremely important that you check that the reference number is:

  • a reference number confirming eligibility for funding
  • still valid - that the reference number hasn't expired

Childcare providers are expected to check the eligibility of all reference numbers given to them. If a place is offered to a family and the reference number is not eligible, no claim for funding can be made and no funding claim will be paid.

The reference number is active for 6 weeks. A parent or carer must have it checked within 6 weeks of issue by a childcare provider and reserve a place even if the child cannot start immediately; the childcare provider will keep the reference number.

If no place is found or reserved within 6 weeks the number will expire and the parent must obtain a new reference number by using the OEC again.

How do I check the validity of the reference number?

To check the reference number provided by a parent or carer, you can log in to the secure headcount return website at eyccdcs using your username and password. There is an eligibility checking tool within the website that must be used to check the reference number.

If you cannot remember your username or password please email and a member of the team will reset details.

How do I receive payment for a free childcare place?

In order to receive payment for each individual child, providers must complete the relevant headcount return on each of the headcount periods. The online return is completed on the secure site, Information regarding funding claims will be made available via the Early Years Bulletin and on this website.

Headcount Day information

The next Headcount Day is 18 August 2016 and is for any free childcare for 2 year olds and free childcare children who have started with a childcare provider after the first Headcount Day of 21 April 2016.

The online form will be ready to complete from 11 July to 21 August 2016. The form will now close at midnight on the Sunday and not the Friday.

Any further information will be added to the website regularly and will be included in the Early Years Bulletins.

Parental contract

Below is the contract between the family and the provider of the free childcare for 2 year olds and the free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. If you require assistance regarding the parental contract, please do not hesitate to contact us at

How do I make a discretionary place referral for 2 year olds?

All fully completed referral forms must be submitted to by Thursday of every week. The approval date is every Friday, where places are granted and emails are sent out to the referring professional.

For more information on submitting a referral form for a SEND discretionary place, please see the higher needs eligibility criteria additional information document above.

For further information regarding the early years descriptors, SEND and high needs block, please visit the High Needs Funding information page. 

To find a list of childcare providers or childminders please see our Children and Families Service Finder.

Further support and guidance

Funding information sheet

The information sheet for the free childcare for 2 year olds and the free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds is now available and can be downloaded below:

Provider calendar

There is no longer a separate set of opening and closing dates for the data collection form for the maintained sector. The maintained sector will have the same data collection availability dates as private, voluntary and independent  (PVI)settings and childminders.

Free childcare for 2 year olds - guide for providers

The guide below for childcare providers can be used when claiming free childcare for 2 year olds:

Free childcare for 2 year olds poster

To promote the free childcare and education for 2 year olds in your childcare setting, please download the poster below:

Statutory guidance - early years and childcare code of practice

The county council is bound by the statutory guidance - code of practice. These guidelines are issued to all local authorities by the Department for Education (DfE) on the delivery of the free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Childcare sufficiency assessment

The authority completed an initial report on the sufficiency of childcare in the county in 2011.

The 2014 update is available to view below: