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Childcare for children with SEND – what you can expect

Across West Sussex there is a wide range of childcare provision including, childminders, pre-schools, day nurseries, out of school clubs and holiday playschemes. Collectively these are known as settings. All childcare provision should be fully inclusive and meet the requirement of the SEND Code of Practice 2015.

There is an expectation that settings adapt their practice, routines and the physical environment to ensure that all children are kept safe, feel included, have their individual needs met and can access the full range of learning experiences.

Based on good Early Years practice, that will benefit all children, these adaptations may include:

  • Ensuring that activities and resources are available in a position and height that your child can access;
  • Using pictures or familiar items to help your child communicate and to determine what your child wants or how they are feeling;
  • Using picture prompts to help children understand and follow routines;
  • Ensuring that your child’s interests and particular learning style and needs are reflected in both the indoor and outdoor environment e.g. busy and quiet spaces;
  • Appropriate and adequate facilities to meet your child’s toileting needs.

    Most importantly, the setting should work with you, the parent, to find out how you currently do things at home so that a consistent approach is used during your child’s transition. You know your child better than anyone else and you are the best source of information on what has or hasn’t supported your child in the past. If you have been trained to undertake a specific task to support or care for your child, then the setting staff can be trained too.

    When visiting settings to choose somewhere suitable, you can ask specific questions such as:

  • How might they meet the individual needs of your child?
  • Can you see their Local Offer document which outlines how they include children with SEND? Do you see this reflected in their practice?
  • How will the setting demonstrate flexibility to ensure your child’s home routines are supported?
  • Is the setting aware of support that can be accessed, including before your child may start at the setting, to help them meet your child’s specific needs?
  • How will the setting plan to make links with any other professionals already involved with your child?
  • How will you be regularly involved and share information about your child and their learning?

    You can expect to receive positive responses to the above from all childcare settings. If you don’t then you can either make a complaint to Ofsted (0330 123 4666) or contact West Sussex County Council’s Family Information Service (01243 777807) who can share your feedback with relevant staff and Ofsted, where appropriate.

    If the setting does require additional support to include your child then they can request this from the West Sussex County Council’s Early Help Service. Support may be obtained from a range of professionals such as a Speech and Language Therapist or an Early Years and Childcare Adviser. Once you’ve given permission, professionals can help to plan for your child’s entry or once they have started, visit your chosen setting to observe how your child plays and interacts with children and staff. They can then discuss with you, and the setting staff, ideas on how the setting can best meet your child’s needs. Follow up visits may be organised to check if these ideas have been successful and supportive.

    Sometimes, in addition to making changes to the practice in the setting, further support may be required such as additional equipment, training or staff. Inclusion Funding may be available for the setting from West Sussex County Council. Also, if your child is entitled to Disability Living Allowance then there is money available from the Disability Access Fund, which is paid directly to the setting to allow them to make reasonable adjustments to support children with SEND. This could include purchasing specialist resources/equipment and adaptations to the environment.

    Early education and childcare settings for children aged 5 and under are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is based on following your child’s interests with an emphasis on learning through play. Children with SEND often thrive in a pre-school/nursery environment or you may decide that a childminder might better meet your child’s individual needs. Whatever you choose, it is a wonderful opportunity for your child to integrate and develop alongside their peers and you can expect all settings to be able to include your child.

    For full details of childcare across West Sussex you can search on www.westsussex.gov.uk/fis. If you are looking for childcare for a child with SEND, and require support, there is extra help available from the Family Information Service, which may involve organising additional support to attend visits with you when looking at different childcare options. Contact us by email: [email protected], phone: 01243 777807 or find us on Facebook.

    We have created a Wiki called "Accessing Childcare" which can be accessed from the following link, which explains the help/support available in finding and accessing childcare in West Sussex

    Accessing Childcare