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Childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Two boys playing with toys

All children are entitled to be included and supported in childcare settings and parents and carers should be able to find a suitable, local provider that is able to meet their child’s needs.

Providers must have arrangements in place to support children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN.

Choosing the right childcare

You can find a searchable list of childcare providers, including childminders, on the Herefordshire Council childcare directory. Before making a decision about your childcare provider, it is important to visit the setting both with and without your child. This will give you a chance to ask questions and find out if they can meet your child’s individual needs.

You will no doubt have lots of questions to ask your childcare provider. Here are some suggestions of things you might like to find out to ensure that you feel confident that the provider can meet the needs of your child:

  1. What qualifications, expertise and experience do staff have in relation to special educational needs or disabilities?
  2. Do staff know where to access specialist advice and support around additional funding?
  3. Does the provider welcome input from other professionals, who may already be working with your child, such as your physiotherapist?
  4. What's the ratio of adults to children?
  5. What type of activities are available and are they accessible for your child, such as the height of sand and water trays?
  6. What's the indoor and outdoor space like and is it accessible?
  7. How accessible are the toilets and changing areas?
  8. What's the provider's approach to managing children's behaviour?
  9. How will you share information about your child's needs, including how they communicate and feeding or medical issues?
  10. Is the provider willing to release staff to attend review meetings for your child?

Remember that not every childcare provider will necessarily match the needs of you and your child, which is why it's important to have a shortlist of different providers to consider and visit.

Disability Access Fund for 3 and 4 year olds

You can nominate your childcare provider to receive £800 of Disability Access Funding (DAF) each year. This funding is available for early years providers in Herefordshire to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. It aids access to early years places by supporting providers to make reasonable adjustments to their settings.

To be eligible for DAF, your child must be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and be receiving Nursery Education Funding (NEF) at a childcare provider in Herefordshire. The funding is paid once per year to one childcare provider nominated by the parent. It is then up to the childcare provider to decide how the DAF is spent however it cannot be used to fund additional hours. Once funding for the year is paid, it will not be reclaimed even if the child leaves the setting.

To find out more and apply for DAF, please visit the Disability Access Fund page on the Herefordshire Council website.

Early Years Inclusion Funding

Herefordshire Council recognises that it can be challenging for early years settings to meet the needs of some children with significant or complex needs. Additional funding to support these settings is available where eligibility criteria is met. Early years providers can find out about early years inclusion funding on the council’s website.

Additional information

Parent Carer Voice Herefordshire offers an opportunity for families of children and young people with SEND to come together, to share information and to provide support to each other.

SENDIASS offer impartial advice and support on all matters relating to children with SEND.

Contact for families with disabled children offer support, guidance and training for families of children with SEND.

Coram have produced a helpful guide to childcare for children with SEND in England.