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Choosing and paying for childcare - Children with SEND

Choosing childcare for children with SEND

Choosing the right childcare can be a difficult decision for every parent, but it is particularly challenging if your child has a special educational need or disability (SEND). 

In this article you will find information on:

  • Finding childcare
  • What support is available for children with SEND in childcare
  • What financial help is available for childcare costs including some specifically for disabled children

Finding childcare

To find up-to-date lists of registered childcare contact the Family Information Service. 

You have to pay for childcare, although depending on your families circumstances, there may be some help with cost.

Nurseries and playgroups - Nurseries and playgroups are for children under five years old to play, learn and have fun in groups, while their parents work, study or are busy elsewhere.

Childminder - A childminder is a person who looks after a child in the childminder’s own home.

Afterschool club - Most schools offer a link to an after school or breakfast club to look after your child whilst you study or work.

Holiday playscheme - where your child can play whilst you are at work or studying.


What support is available for children with SEND in childcare?

All registered childcare must make arrangements to support children with SEND and make information about this available to parents.  They should have a member of staff to be their SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator). 

Childminders are encouraged to identify someone to act as their SENCO.  The SENCO’s job is to advise colleagues and involve parents. 


Hackney's Portage Service is a home visiting education service for very young children aged 0 – 4 years with additional needs.  They work closely with families and services involved with your child.  They can help you understand your child’s development and offer practical strategies and help with moving into playgroup or nursery.


Support for children aged 0 - 4

Staff at nurseries or playgroups or a childminder should respond quickly as they become aware of children in their settings who may be experiencing difficulties. This may be trying new approaches, involving you and developing a plan. 

This plan should detail your child’s strengths, any areas of concern and explain what support the setting will offer e.g. asking advice from a speech and language therapist or a special learning programme. 

Staff should agree with you when to review the plan to see how well it is working.  If after trying new approaches, and involving specialists your child is not making progress it may be time to consider an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment which could lead to an EHC Plan. 

Most children with SEND are supported without needing and EHC Plan. 

You should be given a written summary of your child’s progress when they are aged between two and three years, and an Early Years Foundation Stage profile when your child leaves nursery to go to reception class at primary school.


There are some specific sources of financial support for Early Years childcare settings for children with SEND.


Childminders and nurseries

If you have a 3 or 4 year old child in receipt of disability living allowance (DLA), their nursery or childminder could be able to get extra money to provide suitable support. 

Find out more: Disability Access Fund (DAF) 


Early Years Incustion Funding for settings

Supported Childcare is funded through Early Years Inclusion Funding, a statutory requirement made available by Hackney Learning Trust - Early Years Service.

This funding is provided to enable early years settings supporting children with SEND to secure better outcomes.


Support for children aged over 5

The childcare options for children aged over 5 are after school clubs, holiday playschemes and childminders

Ask to speak to the SENCO, and explain your child’s needs and the helful strategies needed for supporting them.


Financial support for childcare costs for children with SEND that parents/carers can apply for...

Free childcare for some 2 year olds - If you are on a low income or your 2 year old has Education Health and Care plan or receives disability living allowance; you may be able to get 15 hours a week free childcare in term-time.

Vulnerable children - There may be some childcare funding for vulnerable children under 5.

Holiday Playschemes – Some places for children with SEND for up to 5 days in Easter or Summer. Playschemes are for children aged 5 – 11.

Short Breaks - For children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) middle or high rate.  Funding is allocated for eligable childre for activities to support the disabled young person to have an enjoyable break away from their main carer. 

This funding can also be used for holiday playschemes, or afterschool activities.


Financial support for childcare for all children



Last updated: 02/05/19

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