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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). 

On this page you will find information on:

  • Finding childcare
  • Childcare support for children with SEND
  • Help that is available for childcare costs including some specific support for some children who have additional needs and / or disabilities

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.

After-school club - Most schools offer extended day childcare in the form of after school or breakfast clubs so that there is childcare support available while you are studying or working.

Holiday play scheme - 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 Coordinator). 

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

In Hackney the Childminding Network Coordinators support registered childminders to meet the needs of all children they look after. Childminding Coordinators can help the childminders to get in touch with specialist services and discuss any training needs that will help them support children in their care. 

An Area SENCo can advise childcare providers on how to meet the needs of children with additional needs and or disability. 


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.


What support is available 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 support 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.

This support 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 Needs Assessment which could lead to an EHC Plan being agreed. Most children with SEND are supported without needing an Education, Health and Care Plan. 

There are some specific funds for Early Years childcare providers to help them meet the needs of children with SEND.


What support can childminders and nurseries offer? 

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. This is called Disability Access Fund (DAF) and the setting your child is attending will be given the payment. 

Early Years Inclusion Funding for settings

Supported Childcare is funded through Early Years Inclusion Funding, a statutory requirement made available by Hackney Education's - Early Years Service. This funding is provided to enable early years settings supporting children with SEND to help children to achieve better outcomes.


What support is available for children aged 5 years and older?

Childcare options for children over 5 are after school clubs, holiday play schemes and childminders

Ask to speak to the SENCO, and explain your child’s needs and any strategies that are helpful or needed to support them.


What financial support for childcare costs for children with SEND can parent-carers apply for? 

Vulnerable children who have a disability and personal care needs or where the carer has a need for respite can have a Child and family Needs Assessment  from Disabled Children's Services and may receive a care package as a result of the assessment.

Free childcare for some 2 year olds If you are on a low income or your 2 year old has a 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.

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

Short Breaks - For children who receive of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) middle or higher rate.  Funding is allocated for eligible children 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 play schemes, or after-school activities.


What is the childcare support offer for all children? 

Page last modified 11/05/21

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