Choosing childcare for your child with special educational needs or disability

All children are entitled to be included and supported in childcare. All parents should be able to find suitable childcare that meets their child's needs. Childcare providers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments for those with special educational needs and disabilities. Our early years team of specialist consultants can give advice if necessary- there are a range of professionals who can help ensure your child is making the best progress possible.

Your child might also need additional funding. This might be needed to provide resources and equipment or to allow more adult help at the childcare setting. If you want more information on how early years children with special educational needs can get additional funding, speak to the manager of your childcare setting.

For further information, read about how to access free childcare for disabled children aged two to four, or visit the Family and Childcare Trust's Childcare options for disabled children page 

The childcare provider you choose may require additional support so that they can meet your child's needs. This might include advice and support from the council's early years team of specialist consultants. They can help your childcare provision to provide appropriate activities for your child and support them to make sure your child is making progress. Childcare providers can also work with other professionals who may already be supporting your child, for example physiotherapist, portage worker, speech and language therapist.

Use the childcare directory to find providers in your area. Visit more than one childcare provider if possible. Consider making at least two visits, one on your own to give you the chance to ask lots of questions, and another with your child to see how it meets his or her needs.

Think about how best to meet your needs and the needs of your child - possibly a combination of different types of childcare might be more suitable, for example three mornings at a pre-school group and two days with a childminder.

When you visit consider:

  • Are you and your child made to feel welcome?
  • Are children having fun and are the adults showing an interest and joining in with what they're doing?
  • Do staff behave in an inclusive way towards all children, showing positive attitudes towards disability, gender and cultural differences
  • What are your child's interests and preferences? What sort of activities and environment suit him or her? For example if your child particularly likes being outdoors, does the setting have a good, safe and accessible outdoor space?

Questions to ask the childcare provider:

  • What qualifications, expertise and/or experience do staff have in the field of special educational needs or disability?
  • Do staff know where to access specialist support or advice about additional funding?
  • Does the setting welcome input from other professionals who may be involved with your child, for example a physiotherapist
  • What age range does the setting care for?
  • What is the ratio of adults to children?
  • What type of activities are available and are they accessible for your child? (for example height of sand and water trays)
  • What is the indoor and outdoor space like - how accessible is it for your child?
  • How accessible are the toilets and changing area?
  • What is the setting's approach to managing children's behaviour?
  • How will you share information about your child's needs, for example how your child communicates, any feeding or medical issues?
  • Is the setting willing to release staff to attend review meetings for your child?

Remember - not every setting will match you and your child's needs so be prepared to look around. When you find a setting you like, arrange to take your child for a few trial visits before you make a commitment.