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Early Support in childcare

The role of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

All group childcare settings such as nurseries and after-school clubs will have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

The role of the SENCo involves:

  • ensuring all practitioners in the setting understand their responsibilities to children with SEN and the setting's approach to identifying and meeting SEN.
  • advising and supporting colleagues.
  • ensuring parents are closely involved throughout and that their insights inform action taken by the setting.
  • liaising with professionals or agencies beyond the setting.

You should not be charged extra because your child has a disability or special educational needs. There may be additional funds available to support your child in a setting and the SENCo in the setting will be able to discuss this with you.

SENCos are supported in their role by the setting's linked Inclusion and Improvement (I&I) Adviser, who is part of the Achieving for Children Early Years Service. It is the role of the I&I Adviser to fully support the setting with all aspects of inclusion. 

Should the SENCo need to widen the support for the child then they can call upon the Early Years Service to provide advice and practical support about approaches to identification, assessment and intervention. This support also includes networks, training and disseminating good practice. 

Inclusion Hubs

In Kingston and Richmond there are childcare settings who have received a fully funded, comprehensive and enhanced programme to better support the inclusion of children with significant needs.  These are called Inclusion Hubs.

Read more about Inclusion Hubs (opens in new window)

Early Years Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (EYSIF)

All Local Authorities are required to establish an Early Years Inclusion Fund to support 2, 3 and 4 year olds with emerging Special Educational Needs (SEN) or disabilities. Across Achieving for Children (AfC) the Early Years Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (EYSIF) is available where children are accessing Early Education Funding at the setting. 


EYSIF is designed to support settings working with children in the short term as part of a cycle of targeted support and coordinated interventions. Targeted interventions must be implemented with full consent of parents and ongoing co-production. Funding for two or three terms should be sufficient for most children to make progress.  For some children with complex on-going needs, settings should consider making a request for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) (opens in new window) 

Applications for this funding should be made by the childcare setting your child is attending.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Equality Act 2010 ensures that local authorities and settings must not discriminate, harass or victimize children with a disability, and must make reasonable adjustments. Local authorities must ensure that children with disabilities entitled to a place are found suitable provision.

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is a new measure which aids access to early years places by, for example, supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings and/or helping with building capacity (be that for the child in question or for the benefit of children as a whole attending the setting).

Following the introduction of Personal Independence Payments, DLA is a benefit to help support children under 16 with care and mobility needs. DLA could be an entitlement depending on the child’s current needs and will help the parent to provide the extra support the child needs.

If a child receives DLA the early years setting they attend will be able to receive the DAF to help make their setting more accessible to the child and other children.


Three and four year olds will be eligible for the DAF if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of child Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and;
  • the child receives Free Entitlement for 3 and 4 year old funding.

Please note that four year olds in primary school reception classes are not eligible for DAF funding.

Identifying Eligible Children

Early years settings are ultimately responsible for identifying eligible children and settings are encouraged to speak to parents in order to find out who is eligible for the DAF.

More about inclusion and childcare

​You can watch videos and find other useful information about inclusive childcare on the Coram Family and Childcare website (opens in new window) 

Find out how education settings can make simple changes or "reasonanable adjustments" to accomodate your child's needs

The Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments (opens in new window)