Local offer - Early years and childcare (0-5)

Most children with additional needs and disabilities will have their needs met by universal services across health, education and social care. Specialist and targeted services are available for children with significant and complex additional needs.

Services for everyone - universal services

Health Services

All babies have regular health and development reviews during their early years as part of the Healthy Child Programme. These are generally carried out by your health visitor or a member of the health visiting team. NHS Choices has detailed information about the reviews and the ages they take place.

If you have any worries about your child’s development, talk to your health visitor or doctor as soon as possible. If anyone feels that there are concerns about your child, they may:

  • complete a health and development assessment
  • complete an Early Help Assessment (EHA) which looks at your child's and family's needs, the support you need and how this will be provided

Child and Family Centres

Child and Family Centres are for all families with children under 5. They provide groups, activities and access to information and advice. The centres work closely with teams across health, education and social care. Many centres also loan resources for example sensory equipment, which you can borrow and use with you child at home.

Family workers can provide more individual advice and practical support for families who need extra support.  They may complete an Early Help Assessment (EHA) with you to understand your child and family's needs and your priorities.  They may suggest you take part in a parenting course such as Stepping Stones designed for parents and carers of children with special educational needs.

Childcare and early years education

There is a wide range of childcare providers across Cambridgeshire. All childcare providers can support children with a range of needs. 

  • All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours free childcare per week 
  • Some 2 year olds with special educational needs and disabilities are eligible for free places

You can find more information in our childcare pages.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The Early Years Foundation Stage is a national framework for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5 years old. Registered childcare and early years providers follow the EYFS and give you regular feedback about your child and tell you if they have any concerns about their learning and development. You will be involved in discussions about your child’s needs, the extra support put in place and reviews of their progress.

Supporting children with special educational needs  

Your child's nursery, pre-school or childminder might ask the local authority for help and advice. Our Early Years and Childcare Inclusion Advisers work closely with early years settings, advising on identifying and meeting additional needs. If your child needs support from other professionals, their nursery, pre-school or childminder or another professional can complete an Early Help Assessment (EHA) with you to identify the help you need.

Starting school

There is a central admissions system for all maintained schools in Cambridgeshire.

If your child has been identified with some additional needs in their nursery or pre-school, this should be shared with their school as part of the planning for their move to school. If you and your child are working with other professionals such as a family worker, the Team Around the Family meeting will discuss plans to help your child's start in school. Once your child is in school, if the class teacher has any concerns about their progress or development they will talk to you and explain what is being planned to support your child. You should be involved in any discussions about what will be put in place and how this is reviewed. All children are offered school entry health tests when they start school or during their first year. These cover sight, hearing and growth.  If anyone has any concerns, they will refer your child for further checks and discuss with you.

Voluntary and Community services

The Local Offer Directory includes details of local and national charities and voluntary organisations, that support families and children. Pinpoint, the local parent support and involvement network, run by parents for parents, provides opportunities to meet with other parents, information on events, activities, local parent groups and opportunities to get involved in shaping local services.

Targeted and specialist support for children with significant and complex additional needs

Early Support 0 - 5 

Children 0-5 years who have significant and complex additional needs requiring on-going support from specialist services are referred to Early Support. This is a way of working that aims to improve the delivery of services for these children and their families. It enables specialist services to coordinate their activity better and provide families with a single point of contact keeping families and children at the centre of decision making.

SEND Service 0-25

SEND Service 0-25 supports children with significant and complex additional needs and their families. SEND Service 0-25 consists of specialist teachers and practitioners (formerly Portage/SCOT support workers), educational psychologists and sensory support services. 

If your child is part of Early Support, you may be offered a short period of home visiting from the SEND Service 0-25 team and a place at a Support for Learning group. These generally take place at a Child and Family Centre. 

If your child has social communication difficulties, you may be offered a place on one of our Social Communication, Interaction and Learning Skills (SCILS) courses. These seven week courses for parents are run by SEND specialists and cover topics including understanding communication difficulties, developing communication skills, understanding play, using visuals and behaviour. You can find details of courses in the local offer directory.

Disabled Children's Social Care

Children with disabilities may be eligible for support from our Disabled Children’s Social Care services. Families are encouraged to join our Special needs Community Information Point (SCIP) which offers an information and advice service for families with 0-19 year old with a disability or additional needs.

Education, Health and Care assessments and plans

A small number of children with significant and complex additional needs may have an Education, Health and Care assessment and plan which identifies support needed across education, health and social care. These are most commonly discussed with parents and carers the year before a child starts school.