Early Years 0 to 5

On this page you can find information about childcare, children's centres and where to get support throughout your child's early years.  

What to do if you think your child has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND)

Steps you should consider

Step 1 – Arrange a meeting

If your child attends a pre-school, meet with their teacher or key worker

Please note: your child doesn't need a medical diagnosis to receive a special educational needs (SEN) offer.

Step 2 - At your meeting

  • explain why you think your child may have SEND
  • ask whether your child is making expected progress
  • ask whether teachers have identified/raised concerns that your child has barriers to their learning
  • ask what the setting/school/college can do to help your child
  • ask what you may be able to do to help when your child is at home

Step 3 - What the setting should do after the meeting

They will use the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 – 25 to decide if your child does have SEND.

If your child is identified as having a SEND need, the school should take a Graduated Approach, this means they will offer your child additional support. Targets and outcomes will also be set and reviewed at least 3 times per year to assess whether any additional support is required. This may come from the school or a supporting service. This process is called Assess, Plan, Do and review, it is often referred to as an ADPR. This will all be discussed with you and must be recorded – in Central Bedfordshire, we recommend the use of a document called a SEND Support Plan, however some schools have their own tailored support plans in place to record this information.

If despite the education setting taking relevant and purposeful action, there is still no positive impact to your child in their identified area of SEND, the school or you may consider requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHC Needs Assessment). 

SEND and Childcare

All childcare providers must:

  • give children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) the same opportunities as any other child
  • not charge more money to look after children with SEND
  • make reasonable adjustments so that children with SEND can use their services

Local childcare providers for children aged 0 to 5 with SEND include:

  • day nurseries which are registered with Ofsted and offer morning to early evening care that is suitable for working parents, where your child is looked after with a group of children
  • preschools which are registered with Ofsted and normally follow school hours (for example, 9 am to 3 pm), but some run for longer hours and offer breakfast and after school clubs
  • childminders who are registered with Ofsted and care for your child in their home, often with a small group of children
  • Nursery classes in schools

To find childcare options that are available in Central Bedfordshire please search our Family Information Directory to find childcare near you. 

Childcare Costs

There are a number of options that can help with paying the cost of childcare for your child.  Funded childcare can be used with an Ofsted registered provider such as a:

  • Childminder
  • Day nursery
  • Pre school 
  • Play group
  • School nurseries

Funded Childcare for Two Year Olds  

The term after a child turns 2, they may be eligible for 15 hours a week of funded childcare based on the family income. If the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or has an EHC Plan they will be eligible.  You can apply for 2 year old funding by visiting the Family Information Directory.

Funded Childcare for Three and Four Year Olds 

The term after a child turns 3, they are entitled to 15 hours of funded childcare, this is a universal offer and there is no criteria to meet.   

This can be extended to 30 hours funded childcare if you and your family meet certain eligibility criteria.

For more information on 30 hours funded childcare, visit the Childcare Choices website.

To search for childcare near you visit the Family Information Directory.

Tax-free childcare

Get up to £2000 per child

  • For working families, including the self-employed, in the UK
  • Earning under £100k and at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) each
  • Who aren't receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
  • With children aged 0-11 (or 0-16 if disabled)
  • For every £8 you pay into an online account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year

Find out more on the Childcare Choices website

Children's Centres

Children's Centres work with partners to offer a range of services to meet your child's needs all in one place.

  • child and family health services including antenatal, postnatal and breast feeding
  • advice on parenting and parenting programmes
  • information and advice to parents on childcare, early years provision and 2-year-old funded places
  • early education and school readiness, early communication support e.g. speech and language drop-ins
  • outreach and family support services including home visits
  • a variety of drop-in sessions
  • Coffee mornings

Find your nearest Children's Centre on the Family Information Directory

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) offers funding to early years providers to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) by removing barriers which prevent children from accessing their free early education entitlement.

To claim this funding, a child must meet certain national criteria. Providers can claim the funding once the parent/carer has nominated them as the main provider of their child’s early education entitlement, and demonstrated their child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.

3 and 4-year olds will be eligible for the Disability access fund if the child:

  • is in receipt of child disability living allowance (DLA) and
  • attends an early years provider for the funded entitlement

Note: Four-year olds in primary and infant school reception classes are NOT eligible for DAF funding. Children become eligible for free early education at different points in the year depending on when they turn 3.

Contact your early years provider for more information about claiming DAF.

More information can be found on GOV.UK - Disability access fund (DAF)

The Early Years Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Advisory Team

Our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Early Years team provides support to

  • Children
  • Parents and Carers
  • Early Years settings such as Childminders and Nurseries
  • Pre-schools and Schools

The team includes Early Years Advisory Teachers and Specialist Practitioners

More information and how to contact the Early Years Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Advisory Team.

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