Financial support for childcare providers

All children develop and learn in different ways and at varying rates; however they will all have areas of strengths and special interest along with areas that need supporting. A child may have a special educational need if despite the childcare provider providing appropriate activities and a play plan; they continue to experience greater difficulty in learning than their peers.

Childcare providers can apply for funding for a child in their care with special educational needs. This funding will provide financial support to initiate and deliver the special educational provision that is “additional to and different from” the support made generally available to other children of the same age.

Types of funding available to support children with special educational needs in setting

Early years SEN funding is money given to providers to help support children with SEN or disabilities. This funding should have a positive impact on a child’s longer term outcomes, including making the most of early education.

Early years providers can apply for the following funding streams to support children 0 to five years.

  • Bursary support for inclusive practice
  • Level 3 bursary for children with complex needs
  • Disability access funding (DAF) for three and four year olds - mandatory funding
  • Special Educational Needs Inclusion funding (SENIF) for three and four year olds - mandatory funding

SEN bursary support for inclusive practice

SEN bursary support for inclusive practice

The Starting Life Well service has secured funding for the 2020/2021 financial year to support children with special educational needs accessing childcare. This funding is limited and we cannot guarantee that it will be available each term.

The funding should be used as a contribution towards providing additional support resources or equipment to ensure that the child is able to participate in activities with other children.

How do I apply and how much is it?

All childcare settings will be required to complete an SEN return. This return is available termly via the Provider Portal.

Guidance to completing the return is available to download from the bottom of the page.

Funding will be determined by:

  • The early years childcare provider who will use the graduated approach to assess what level individual children are on each term
  • The setting must have more than 3 children at EYIS level to qualify. The funding will be paid in term time blocks.
  • children who are in receipt of level 3 funding will not be calculated in these figures for payment

Visit the provider portal, where you can complete your return.

Settings with more than three children will be awarded:

  • A termly payment of £15 will be made for each child at EYE
  • A termly payment of £25 will be made for each child at EYIS
  • This will be paid at a maximum of 10 children at either level

Level 3 personalised payment

Where a child has complex needs requiring any of the following; one to one support needed to deliver specialist target external advice; meet medical needs; provide resources; settings can request level 3 personalised payment. Please discuss with your Area SENCO before you apply. Please note we can only accept the online application below for this Level 3 personalised funding payment.

Apply online

How will the level 3 personalised payment be monitored?

Each setting should have a clear approach to monitoring progress and development of their children. You should review and evaluate the quality and breadth of the support you offer and explore how different types of need can be met effectively. The Area SENCO’s will discuss and review the settings level 3 bursaries termly.   

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

How I claim the DAF for my setting:

  • Child must already be on three and four year old funding
  • You will need to discuss with parents if their child is in receipt of DLA
  • If they are they will need to share a copy of the DLA letter with you and
  • complete the parental agreement form giving your setting permission to claim the funding

How to apply

Access your Disability Access Fund Module on the Provider Portal 

  • Click on the DAF button
  • Select the childcare and service
  • Press Continue 

You can use the 'find a child' filter to find a child already attending your setting and select them. If the required child is not listed they can be added. You will need to enter the child’s details when requested.

(Note - if a child is not eligible or has already been approved the system will not allow you to select them). 

You will then be asked to provide proof that the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The system allows you to upload a copy of the DLA award. Please note we only usually need the first page of the award letter uploading, as this page is usually the one that states they are in receipt of DLA. You can upload a photo or a scanned document.

You do have the option to send by post but only in exceptional circumstances our preferred method is for you to upload the evidence as this is a secure way to send us the information.

  • Details in support of your claim

In this box you must confirm that you have got the Parent/Carer permission to apply for this funding via the Parent Contract. The wording we require you to use is: 

‘I confirm that I have the Parent/Carer permission to apply for this funding and the Parent/Carer has signed the Parent Contract to this effect’. 

  • Summary page

Gives you the opportunity to review the information you are submitting and a confirmation tick box that all the information is correct. 

Click 'Submit' and 'Finish' buttons.

Special Educational Needs Inclusion fund (SENIF)

The Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (SENIF) is for early years providers to help them support the needs of individual children with lower level or emerging SEN. The fund should be used as a contribution towards providing additional resources and support.

What can settings use the SENIF for?

The funding should be used to put in low level, early support to improve outcomes for the child and reduce longer term difficulties.

Examples of how providers can use the fund include:

  • Enhanced staff ratios within the environment in order to increase the capacity of the child’s key person to offer adult focused activities/support specific intervention
  • Key persons time to engage with specialist support from outside agencies, such as speech and language therapy, communication development worker, physiotherapy

Will SEN Inclusion Fund be granted if the child has complex needs or EHCP?

Settings cannot claim this funding if they already get other SEN funding such as Level 3 bursary. Statutory guidance indicates that children with more complex needs and those in receipt  of an EHCP continue to be eligible to receive funding but this is via the high needs block.

How much is it and how do settings apply for the funding?

This year 2019/20 there is a maximum fund of £120,000 available. As this is a limited fund, not every provider may be able to get funding. We cannot guarantee that funding will be maintained at this level in the future.

  • Early Years settings must complete their Special Educational Needs return termly to the Starting Life Well Service via the ‘Better Start module on the Provider Portal.
  • If the field indicates that the child is at Early Years Universal (EYU) or Early Years Extra (EYE) then this child will qualify for the Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund.
  • Payment of up to £500 pro rata to number of funded hours attending (e.g. a child who is attending up to 15 hours would receive £250.) will be paid termly.

How will the Special Educational Needs Inclusion funding be monitored?

The Area Senco will monitor how the early years setting is using the fund. Ofsted may also ask the setting if they have any children in receipt of the SEN inclusion fund and if so how they have spent the monies to support those children.

Scan Zone

Scan Zone

Upload your evidence to the Starting Life Well service, such as a DLA eligibility statement, Universal Credit statement or funding forms and agreements. You can do so by visiting one of our Scan Zones. Scan Zones are located in all the Gateways and Broughton Hub, they are touch screen, tablet devices that allow customers to self-scan documents.

Read more about Scan Zones

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in the Early Years

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