Choosing the right childcare can be a difficult decision for every parent, but can be particularly challenging if your child has a disability or special educational need. You may struggle to access the childcare that you want that meets your child's needs and is suitable for your family.
Here are some points to bear in mind when considering your childcare options:
Early Years settings have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) who will be able to discuss what's right for you and your child within the setting.
The SENCo will be familiar with other practitioners and services that work with children with disabilities and know how to find additional guidance or support if necessary.
Childminders, breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday clubs
Childminders, breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday clubs have access to support and training from the borough's Early Years Childcare and Improvement (EYCIT) Team. They can assist in finding additional support where necessary and signposting you to relevant services, including Children's Centres.
Paying for Childcare
If your child is 2, 3 or 4 years old and has a disability, they are entitled to 15 hours per week of Free Early Education (FEE) for 38 weeks of the year. The Childcare Provider will also be funded an additional amount to support your child's special needs, for example, one to one support, or specialist equipment. This is known as the SEN Inclusion Funding.
Direct Payments are cash payments from your local authority for parents of disabled children to buy their own support or care. Click here to read more about Direct Payments.
Child Tax Credits can include additional support for disabled children. For more information, call 0845 300 3900 or visit the HMRC website.
Working Tax Credit can include help with childcare costs. For more information, call 0845 300 3900 or visit the HMRC website.
Other Local Support
There are sometimes local programmes providing financial support for a parent to get back to work or college where the costs of childcare are more expensive because your child needs, for example, additional care or one to one. Speak to Families Information Direct who will know of any local schemes.
Your child's needs: questions to ask
- What qualifications / training or experience do staff have and are they relevant to your child?
- Does your child need extra help - and are the staff willing for you (and/or a health practitioner if appropriate) to show them how to look after his or her needs?
- Are they ready and able to provide practical support (e.g. with personal care)?
- Are the premises accessible for your child?
- What equipment is essential?
- Are carers willing to be shown how to administer medicine? Do they have the relevant insurance?
- Are carers willing to work with other practitioners to meet your child's needs, e.g. occupational therapists and/or speech therapists if appropriate?
- If your child needs one-to-one care or additional help, how will the group or childminder manage this?
- All childcare providers must meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and make 'reasonable adjustments' to include disabled children. They must not treat a disabled child 'less favourably' because of their disability.
- Give the carer clear and detailed information about your child's needs, methods of communication, medication, appointments, likes and dislikes.
- An honest and open discussion about your child's needs with the childcare provider, involving, for example, an occupational therapist or psychologist where necessary, can often lead to a better understanding of your child's needs and how these can be managed.
- If you are having difficulty finding suitable childcare, Informed Families can support you. Contact us and we'll be happy to assist.