Early Identification of SEND
Early observations of your child are crucial. If your child has more complex developmental and sensory needs, these may be identified at birth. Health assessments, such as the hearing screening test, which is used to check the hearing of all new-born babies, enable very early identification of a range of medical and physical difficulties. Health services, including paediatricians, your GP and health visitors, can work with you and help support your understanding of your child’s needs and access early support.
Children’s Centres also run sessions that support families in the early identification of special educational needs and can signpost you to other sources of support and advice.
If there is concern about a child, a notification is made to the SEND Early Years Panel (SEYP). The Panel has a multi-agency representation and meets regularly to co-ordinate the assessment and delivery of support to children aged 0-5 with SEN or disabilities. Notifications (referrals) to the SEYP can be made by a range of professionals including health visitors, early education providers or directly by parents and carers.
Health professionals have a duty under the ‘Children and Families Act 2014’ to notify the local authority of any child under compulsory school age who has, or probably has, special educational needs or a disability. This is called a Section 23 Notification and these are made by health professionals directly to the SEND Early Years Panel.
If your child has complex needs
In Redbridge, the Early Years SEND Support Services (EYSENDSS) Pre-School Home Visiting Team works with parents and children (0-5 years) in the home to build on the abilities of the child and support them to learn and master new skills. Much of the learning takes place through play and during the child’s daily routine. Support is tailored to meet the requirements of the individual child. Home Visitors will often provide a link between parents and other professionals. Referral to the team is made through the SEND Early Years Panel, although informal enquiries can be raised directly with the Early Years SEND Support Service.
Childcare and Early Education
If your child has a disability or additional needs and you are considering childcare options, the SEND Early Years Panel can provide initial advice and support including supporting your child's transition into an early years setting.
If your child is already attending a setting, including nurseries, pre-schools and childminders, a notification (referral) can be made to the panel. This is ususally made by the setting, but can be made directly by the parents/carers and the Panel would then contact the setting for more information. Notifications to panel often result in early years SEND professionals becoming involved to give advice and support to those working in your child's setting.
If your child is not attending an early years setting, you can contact the panel directly, or ask your social worker or helth practitioner to complete a notification form for your child.
Early Years Providers and Funding
All nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and nursery schools (providers) are required to have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. Settings are encouraged to provide information on how they support children with additional needs as part of their local offer submission or alternatively within their SEN Policy.
All settings must adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework, which sets the standards for practitioners to ensure children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe.
All early years settings follow the Early Years SEND Arrangements Framework which supports a graduated approach to meeting the needs of very young children with additional needs. It gives all early years' settings guidance on how to support children with different areas/levels of need. Further information can be found here.
When your child is 2 years old, he or she may be able to get free early education. You may be eligible if you are on a low income, in receipt of benefits including Disability Living Allowance, if your child is looked after by the local authority or is supported by an Education Health and Care Plan.
All 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education (universal entitlement) and children of eligible working parents may also be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare (extended entitlement).
Redbridge Local Authority also funds children with SEND as young as 2 to be able to access early education, promoting equality and inclusion through additional resource funding known as SEND Early Years Inclusion Funding.
Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans in the Early Years
For some children, it may be appropriate to begin a statutory assessment of their special educational needs which may then result in an Education, Health and Care Plan. The SEND Early Years Panel considers requests from early years settings and parents for children within the Early Years Foundation Stage (up to the child’s Reception year in school).