Choosing a nursery or childminder for a child with SEND

There are a range of childcare options available for your child, some of these will be for children of all abilities, while others will be specialist services only for disabled children.

It is worth considering what kind of childcare you want. You should think about whether you want your child to be cared for at home, in a group setting or in another person’s home.

All Ofsted registered childcare settings, such as nurseries, pre-schools and nursery classes, must make arrangements to support children with SEN and make information about this available to parents.

The setting should:

  • make arrangements to support children with SEN to be shared with parents
  • ensure the SENCO is responsible for supporting the setting with meeting the needs of your child
  • assign a key worker to your child to focus on the progress and support for your child
  • provide a plan of support should the need arrive

Create a shortlist of childcare providers that you like. It is worth visiting as many as possible.

Contact each setting to arrange a visit. Many nurseries have an open-door policy where you can drop in unannounced. Some also hold ‘open days’ and ‘family fun days’ which can be a good chance to talk to staff as well as parents already using the setting.

The following short video clip shows what you can expect from an inclusive early years setting.

Wherever possible, always choose recommended childcare that has a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating and where you feel confident leaving your child. You will need to allow for a settling-in period and you can negotiate this with the childcare provider.

Many parents build up the number of hours they leave their child for, increasing gradually. This allows for everyone to get used to the new routine and for the key person at the childcare setting to get to know your child as well as undertake any necessary training.

In the majority of situations, with the right care and support, children adapt to new surroundings in their own time and are very excited about the new opportunities’ childcare can offer them.

As a parent, you will know whether your child is happy, and with regular feedback, you will find out how they are progressing. You should discuss any concerns as soon as possible with your child’s key person or speak to the manager.

  • Do you get a warm welcome when you arrive?
  • Is the setting child friendly?
  • Is there access to outdoor space?
  • Do the children there seem happy and content?
  • Are you able to meet other staff?
  • Are they willing to show you around?
  • Do the staff interact with your child?
  • Are they comfortable around your child’s disability?
  • What adaptations would they need to make for your child?

You will also need to consider how well the childcare setting can accommodate any additional needs your child has. Try to speak to the manager or appointed special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) to find out:

  • What experience do they have of working with disabled children or children with similar needs?
  • What relevant training do they have?
  • Would they need more training?
  • What support do they offer children with disabilities and SEN?
  • How would they ensure that your child has the same play and learning opportunities as other children?
  • How will they communicate with you about your child’s progress and needs?

Many local councils offer brokerage. Brokerage is when someone advises and negotiates on someone’s behalf.

Family Information Services usually provide brokerage, which should include the following:

  • Support in securing an appropriate childcare place – this may not be your first choice and they may help you to widen your search for childcare (you need to keep in mind that good settings usually have long waiting lists for all children)
  • Guidance on local providers who have experienced staff
  • Assistance in contacting childcare providers, including telephone calls, arranging visits and discussing any adaptations or training they might need

You can email EY& for further guidance and information or visit early years.

The IASS Network is the new name for the National Parent Partnership Network (NPPN) and services are found in all local authority areas.

They offer independent, impartial advice on issues relating to disability and SEN. See the SIAS - Swindon SEND information, advice and support service page.

The following leaflet will help you to select the right childcare provider for your child:

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