Early years and childcare
This section of our Local Offer provides information about early years support and childcare for children with SEND, and their families.
Your child’s early years are a very important time for their development. Many parents see their child meet the expected milestones with no cause for concern. However, some people may be worried and want to seek further help and advice. If your child is experiencing difficulties with walking, talking, toilet training, weight gain, behaviour or any aspect of their learning, contact your GP or health visitor in the first instance.
View further information about how to get a diagnosis if you are worried about your child.
Early years education and SEND
All providers of early years education, such as day nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups and registered childminders, are required to follow the special educational needs and disability code of practice 0-25 years. They must have arrangements in place to identify and assess children with SEND and they should publish a Local Offer explaining how they do this.
Early years settings have a duty to:
- Make sure your child gets the support they need
- Support your child to enable them to engage in early education activities alongside other children
- Designate a member of staff to be the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
- Inform and involve parents in decision-making
- Promote equality of opportunity for disabled children, under the Equality Act 2010
Brent's Early Years Inclusion Support Team helps private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries and childminders to meet their legal requirements and achieve best practice in supporting children with additional needs. This is done through training, advice and nursery visits. The team also promotes early identification of need, and early intervention, through referrals to other relevant professionals. The team work closely with families to ensure that they are central to all decision-making regarding their child’s early education and how their child’s needs can best be managed within an early years setting. Supported transition to primary school is also a key focus of their work.
View a factsheet about how children with additional needs are supported in the early years.
Family focused support
In Brent there are a range of services for families who have young children with SEND. This might involve you being supported by a key worker, who will assess what sort of help you may need and work in partnership with you to put appropriate services in place.
- Early Support and Portage - free services for pre-school children with a disability or additional needs from birth to four years old.
- Family Solutions Service - confidential advice and support for families with children aged 0 to 18 (up to 19 for young people with disabilities)
- Accelerated Support Team - a rapid response service for children and young people aged between 11 and 17 who are on the edge of care, facing crisis or risk of homelessness. This includes young people with SEND.
- Children’s centres - where you can access a range of services including speech and language therapy and SEND parent support groups
- Parenting support - including courses for children with SEND
- Parent and toddler groups in the borough
If you are looking for childcare, we can help you find:
- Nurseries that offer specialist places for children with SEND
- Childminders who have experience of looking after children with additional needs
- Flexible childcare options
- Out-of-school and holiday care
Need to talk to someone about your options? Then contact Brent’s Children and Families Information Service (CFIS), which holds details of all registered childcare providers in the borough and also offers a free brokerage service to help you make the right choice.
When making contact with a provider, parents/carers are encouraged to look at the staff's qualifications which will show how they are qualified to deliver specific services. Settings should also have a recruitment policy which demonstrates that they follow safer recruitment practices, including taking up references and staff having a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in place where appropriate.
Funded early education places
When your child is two years old, they may be able to get 15 hours of free early education a week. You could be eligible to receive this if you are on a low income, in receipt of benefits or your child has a disability or additional needs.
All three and four-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early years education per week, regardless of circumstance. You can use this funding at most private day nurseries, pre-schools, children's centres or with some childminders - please check to make sure they accept the funding before you enrol. Working families can also access an additional 15 hours on top of this.
Get more details about ways of paying for childcare, including tax credits and childcare vouchers.
Early years settings can claim an extra £615 in funding for three and four-year-old children who are receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If this applies to you, please let your early years setting know when your child starts. They will use the additional funding to support your child’s learning. Please note that it can only be claimed once per year, so if you use more than one childcare provider during the year, only one setting will be entitled to claim. You can select which childcare provider you want to receive the funding when you complete your parental declaration when enrolling your child.