Childcare and early learning SEND

All childcare settings are able to support a child with special educational needs and /or disabilities although some may have particular skills or expertise.

Under the Child Care Act 2006 the County Council has a duty to:

  • ensure sufficient and suitable childcare places are provided to enable parents to work or to undertake education or training which could lead to employment; and
  • to secure free childcare and early learning provision for all 3 and 4 year olds and  2 year olds who meet nationally set eligibility criteria, for 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year.

This duty covers the provision of childcare for children and young people with SEND.

Information on childcare, including free childcare and early learning for some two year olds with special educational needs and disabilities, and funding for providers to support children with additional needs, can be found in our Childcare section.  

You may also wish to look at Contact's information on Childcare for families with disabled children.

How can I find a childcare place?

Full details of local registered early years and childcare providers can be found in the Cambridgeshire Online Directory

Starting childcare – helping your child to settle in

Children make the best start in a nursery, pre-school or with a childminder when arrangements and plans are made in advance so that they are familiar with their new environment and staff are prepared to receive them. Parents and carers play a vital role in this process. It can be hard to hide your worries at this time but if you are positive about what is going to happen next your child will feel secure and this will help them settle.

Our SEND specialist services or other professionals may also support with your child’s start in nursery or pre-school. This might include:

  • advising your childcare provider on ways to support your child
  • providing resources that have already been used by any of the people working with your child either at home or in a group
  • staff training around your child’s specific needs or a more general approaches for SEND

If your child needs extra support for example 1 to 1 support, this may be identified as part of your child's Education, Health and Care Plan. Your childcare provider can also apply for additional funding (SEN Inclusion fund) to put the extra help in place.

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs / Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan (from September 2014)

Parents will always be involved in discussions with an SEN Casework Officer from the Statutory Assessment and Resources Team (START) about choices in schooling. It will be important that your child's start at school, nursery or setting is planned with you. There will be opportunities to visit the school, nursery or setting and discuss your child's needs with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo).    

Who can help?

If your child is not settling in or you have concerns about progress, talk in the first instance to your child's key person and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) at your child's setting.  You can discuss your worries with any of the people working with you or at your local Child and Family Centre.

You can also contact Cambridgeshire's Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS), formerly the Parent Partnership Service who can help with information, advice and support if you are concerned about your child and the support they need. 

Early Years equipment pathway

  1. OT undertakes paediatric assessment.
  2. OT identifies C&YP equipment need.
  3. Is the required equipment (Recycled special) available in the Integrated Community Equipment Store?
    • If equipment is available in the store, it is allocated to child to access the Early Years setting.
  4. If equipment is not available in the store, is there an EHCP in place identifying equipment as a need to access EYS setting?
    • If there is a EHCP identifying equipment, OT orders new equipment funded by SEND.
  5. If there is not an ECHP identifying equipment, OT brings to the attention of LA or Health Commissioners to discuss on a case by case basis.