Childcare for children with SEND

Most children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be able to begin their education in the same mainstream nurseries, childminders, pre-schools and playgroups as other children. 

Choosing childcare

All childminders, playgroups and nurseries should welcome children with special educational needs and disabilities, but their atmosphere, experience and facilities vary. You will need to visit a few and think about what will suit your child.  

Amaze publishes a fact sheet with tips on what to look for when you are choosing childcare for a child with SEND. 

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) also has advice on the types of childcare and questions to ask childcare providers. 

Get details of local nurseries and pre-schools from your local Family Information Service or Local Offer SEND directory.  

Brighton & Hove Family Information Service 

Brighton & Hove Local Offer directory 

East Sussex 1Space Local Offer directory 

East Sussex Community Information Service (ESCIS) 

Our SENDIASS advisers may be able to help you think over your pre-school choices. Visit our SENDIASS page.

Paying for childcare

All children are entitled to 570 hours of free early education from the term after their third birthday until the term in which they turn five. This figure can double for parents who are both working.  

Some children are entitled to 15 hours free early education/childcare from age two. This includes those who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or those in receipt of Disability Living Allowance as well as families who receive benefits like Universal Credit. 

From April 2024, the free 15 hours childcare will extend to all working parents of children aged 2 and then to children aged 9 months from September 2024. Get details of the extension of free childcare entitlement from 2024. Or visit the Childcare Choices website and choose the funding section which applies to your child’s age.

Make sure you apply the term before your child is eligible by age, to ensure that you can access a place when you want it. 

Additional funding for children with SEND

Nurseries and pre-school settings may also be able to access additional funding to help successfully include children with SEND in their setting. This is sometimes called Childcare Inclusion Funding or Access Funding. It can be used for extra staffing costs, to buy special equipment or make adaptations to the premises.  

Read more: 

Brighton & Hove Early Years Funding Information 

East Sussex Early Years Funding Information