Business development

Early Years grants and funding for your setting

Wanting to make a big change on a small budget? These grants could help you out
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May 13, 2024
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In a rush? Here's the quick run-down:

  • Most childcare grants require that you use the funding for a specific project to be eligible. Have this in mind if you're just looking for support with basic running costs.
  • Consider what it is that makes you specifically in need of the childcare grant you apply for. Are there exceptional circumstances? Are you supporting children and families in a way that no existing services or fundraising is? What makes your project, teaching, or support unique?
  • Although fundraising through grants is sometimes helpful (or even necessary) for high childcare costs, funding streams like these aren't a substitute for a strong business model. If your setting is struggling with low income, check out some of our business resources here to get things back on track.
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Early Years grants and funding can be tricky.

Whether you need new facilities, want to update your play areas or offer more family support, finding the right grant for your project can be challenging. You need to consider childcare grant eligibility and how you're meeting the eligibility criteria. You also need to know what improvements you can make with the funding you receive. This is all needed before you begin the application process.

That’s why we’ve tried to make it that bit easier.

Grants for Early Years settings

Early Years grants for charities

  1. The National Lottery Community Fund from the National Lottery

They give: Apply for funding under £20,000 or over £20,000

They’re looking for: School-based settings or not-for-profits who can demonstrate that they are building strong relationships in the local community, improving those communities, and offering further support to help people fulfil their potential. You can use the money on everything from equipment and vocational training to one-off events and running costs.

You can see previous funds they have granted here.

You can apply: Go to their website and follow the steps to learn about their eligibility requirements, and how to apply.

Our advice? The National Lottery has a strong focus on community. Make sure that you can include this as a key part of your plans and your application.

  1. Tesco Community Grants

They give: A grant of up to £1,500.

They’re looking for: Charities, schools, community programs and not-for-profit Early Years providers in the UK.  Individuals and ‘for profit’ organisations are not eligible.

You can apply: Learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply here.

Our advice? Tesco provides funds for "all local good causes." They also state that they are currently prioritising helping projects that support food security, as well as children and young people.

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Grants for schools and Early Years settings

  1. Local School Nature Grants from Learning through Landscapes

They give: Resources or training up to a value of £500.

They’re looking for: Schools and Early Years providers (with at least 5 staff and a dedicated building – either stand-alone or part of a school) in England, Wales and Scotland only.

You can apply: Go to their website and click "Apply for a grant." You will then get a breakdown of what you will receive and how to apply.

Our advice? The grant is designed to improve your year round outdoor learning provision and facilitate outdoor play, so have this in mind when you apply.

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Early Years grants for your small business

  1. Small business grants

They give: A wide variety of amounts. There is not just one grant for small childcare businesses.

They’re looking for: All sorts. One of the most reliable ways of finding funding is getting in touch with your local authority and seeing what they specifically offer in your area. It could be anything from grants targeted directly to childcare providers, up to standard small business grants.

You can apply: Head over here to search for grants in your area.

Our advice? Can’t find what you’re looking for? Local authorities should have information on their website in the business section. Or, just give them a ring and you’re much more likely to get through to someone who can give you useful advice.

Early Years grants for getting outdoors

  1. Free trees for schools and communities from The Woodland Trust

They give: A variety of tree packages for your setting.

They’re looking for: Nursery schools and Early Years settings in the UK that are looking to add more greenery to their outside space.

You can apply: The application process is simple - just fill out the application form here.

Our advice? You'll need to ensure you have enough space to plant the trees you receive, as well as the time to commit to looking after them!

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Childcare funding and grants from your local authority

  1. Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP)

They give: Up to £342 per year

They’re looking for: Children who are aged 3 or 4, meet the eligibility requirements explained here, and in receipt of 15 hours of "free" childcare. The child's parents must also be in receipt of at least one of the other types of support listed here.

You can apply: This is paid to you by your local authority, so reach out to them to apply.

Our advice? You can choose how you spend EYPP, but it has to meet the needs of the children who are in receipt of it. Your local authority can provide guidance to you about this. Ofsted may choose to track pupils who receive EYPP during your inspection, so be ready to show data and proof of how EYPP funding has supported your provision in regard to children's welfare and development.

  1. The Disability Access Fund (DAF)

They give: £800 per child, per year

They’re looking for: Children aged 3 or 4 who have disabilities and are in receipt of disability living allowance (DLA).

You can apply: This is paid to you by your local authority, so reach out to them to apply.

Our advice? You can use DAF to provide opportunities for children with disabiltiies through equipment and resources or by making your setting or facilities more accessible. Defer to your local authority for specific guidance as to how this money can be spent.

  1. Special Educational Needs (SEN) inclusion funding or SENIF

They give: This support is usually tiered or banded so amount may vary according to need. You will receive one grant per year for children eligible for this funding.

They’re looking for: 3 and 4 year olds with special needs or emerging SEND, in receipt of 15 or 30 hours of "free" Early Years education.

You can apply: This is paid to you by your local authority, so reach out to them to apply.

Our advice? Reach out to your local authority to find out more about how much your organisation can receive to develop SEN inclusion and how the funding they pay may be spent.

The big ideas

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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