Childcare support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Find information about the support you can get with childcare for children with SEND.

Search our Family Information Directory for early years settings

Some settings give extra information about how they provide for children with SEND and are marked with the Local Offer logo.

What support you can expect

Wherever possible, children with special educational needs and disabilities will have their needs met in their local setting. The setting must clearly explain if there are situations where they can’t meet the needs of your child.

Early years settings are expected to: 

Special educational provision

The early years setting will give special educational provision to children with SEND. The setting will discuss this with you as a parent or carer and work out the best way to offer support. 

If a child has a special educational need, the setting considers them in need of SEN Support

We recommend that you talk to the SEN coordinator (SENCO) at the setting for more details about what they can provide, every childcare setting must have a designated SENCO. In a childminding setting the childminder is the SENCO.

Funding support in the setting

If your child receives Disability Living Allowance and they attend an early years setting you should let the setting know.

Childcare providers, including registered childminders may be able to get Disability Access Funding (DAF) to support the needs of children with SEND in their setting. This could be used to pay for:

  • special equipment
  • resources
  • extra staff
  • training

Speak to your provider to find out more.

Early SEND support funding

Early SEND support is to ensure the inclusion of all children not yet attending school with emerging and additional needs. Early SEND Support funding is where we make payments directly to a nursery, pre-school, or childminder to help them meet the needs of children with SEN and/or disabilities in their childcare setting.

If you think your child has SEND or you're worried about your child's development speak to your early years provider about your concerns.

Your provider will speak to you if they think some additional SEN support could help your child. As part of this support they may apply for funding which would require your consent. We will gain your consent by email. They may also ask for advice from certain services if you agree to it.

Services they may consult include:

  • an educational psychologist
  • a portage consultant
  • a specialist teacher
  • an early years support and advice officer
  • a health visitor or other health professional

Education, health and care plan (EHCP) assessments

Find out more about the EHCP process.

Some children in early years settings need further support and with your agreement the setting can request an EHC needs assessment. This may lead to an EHCP which is reviewed every 6 months for children under 5 years.