The results of the Government’s Early Years National Funding Formula consultation were published on 1 December 2016. These results included a requirement for the creation of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Inclusion Fund.
SEN Inclusion Fund
Local authorities (LAs) are required to establish an inclusion fund for 3 and 4 year olds with SEN taking up any hours of the free childcare entitlement. The purpose of this fund will be to support local authorities to work with providers to address the needs of individual children with SEN.
- Eligibility: The requirement for an inclusion fund is specifically for 3 and 4 year olds although a similar approach can also be taken for 2 year-olds and is intended to be targeted at those children with lower level or emerging SEN.
- Funding: To create the SEN Inclusion Fund, local authorities are able to combine funding from either one, or both, of their early years block and high needs block of the Dedicated Schools Grant. Local authorities should pass the majority of their SEN Inclusion Fund to providers in the form of top-up grants on a case by case basis.
- Entitlement: All early years providers with funded 3 and 4 year olds will be eligible to receive support from the SEN inclusion fund.
The LA had previously operated an Early Years Access Fund (EYAF), current exposure £574,000, funded from the High Needs Block, to support the inclusion of these children. Due to financial pressures it was agreed at Children and Young Persons Committee to cease this fund with effect from March 2018.
EYAF applications will continue to be accepted and considered for children under the age of three until the end of March 2018. Officers will work to identify funding to support these younger children in the longer term. This will require and involve further consultation with providers and parents.
Proposed Cambridgeshire SEN Inclusion Fund
When formulating the proposals for Cambridgeshire’s SEN Inclusion Fund we have considered the operation of the current EYAF and have sought the views of providers both through a working group and meetings with the Early Years Provider Reference Group, since July 2016.
Funding of £500,000 per year is identified from within the High Needs Block of funding to support the creation of an SEN inclusion fund. A further £500,000 per year from within the Early Years Block was agreed as a result of the Cambridgeshire Early Years National Funding Formula consultation, which concluded in January 2017. This creates a finite fund of £1 million from which to finance the SEN inclusion fund and Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for three and four year old children.
It was originally intended that the SEN inclusion fund would be available from April 2017. In order to ensure sufficient time has been given for consultation of these proposals with all relevant parties, it has been agreed to continue with the current EYAF scheme until the end of August 2017. Implementation of the new SEN Inclusion Fund will, therefore, be from September 2017.
The following documents describe in detail the proposed SEN Inclusion Fund and application process for your consideration and response:
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We recognise that, we do not yet know the impact the implementation of the 30 hours free childcare policy will have on demand for funding for children meeting the criteria and thresholds described in our proposals. In addition, for the period during which transitional funding continues to be paid to Maintained Nursery Schools, which includes funding for SEN, these schools will only be eligible to apply for Tier 3 funding.
As a result, we propose to review this policy and associated funding levels annually, for a minimum of two years, to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of children in Cambridgeshire.
Your response to these proposals
Your response to these proposals is important to us. A four week consultation of these proposals will begin on Monday 12 June 2017 and closed on Sunday 9 July 2017.
For further information regarding these proposals please email: [email protected]