All childcare providers are required to provide clear information about the support they provide. This may be on their website, if they have one, or in the form of a policy or report. The Families and Childcare Trust ( see the link at the bottom of this page ) have useful advice on their website about questions to ask and things to think about when choosing childcare if your child has additional needs.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator

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.

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. 

When you are contacting childcare settings, speak to the SENCo and discuss how they can meet the needs of your child, including any additional equipment, language support or other assistance they may need. Childcare providers should make "reasonable adjustments" to their services so that your child has access to the same activities as anyone else.

Read more about "The Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments" on the Local Offer section of this website

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.

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.

Resolving disagreements

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework requires all registered childcare providers to have a complaints procedure. This does not include complaints relating to EHC plans, which parents should take up with the local authority that issued the plan. For childcare provision registered with Ofsted concerns should be raised directly with the manager or provider in the first instance. For complaints in writing the nursery provider must respond within 28 days. Where the childcare provision is run by a school, the school's complaints procedure should be used. Further information about complaints is given in Chapter 11, Resolving disagreements, in the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.

Childcare Brokerage

This means providing help for someone who may need support using services. The broker acts as a middle person, helping, advising, searching and maybe negotiating on your behalf to help you find the childcare you need. This could be when you are looking for long term childcare or if you need short term, emergency or ad hoc childcare. Please note that the Childcare Brokerage service does not offer free childcare or provide funding towards childcare.

Contact the Childcare Brokerage Service:

Phone: 020 8547 6581
Email: early.years@achievingforchildren.org.uk

Family Information Service

Our Family Information Service (FIS) gives free, impartial advice about childcare, early education, activities and support to parents.

Telephone: 020 8547 5215
Email: fis@achievingforchildren.org.uk


Read more about how Early Years providers should be supporting your child:

SEND guide for Early Years settings (gov.uk)

Here is a video about from the Family and Childcare Trust website.  This short film looks at how an inclusive early years setting in Suffolk has easily made minor adaptations to their care in order to look after children who have additional needs.

To watch more videos like this and for other useful information about inclusive childcare visit:

Family and Childcare Trust website