Childcare providers have a legal duty to offer extra support to meet the needs of a child with a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This might include installing a ramp to allow wheelchair access to their premises or training staff to use special equipment.
They are not allowed to treat a child 'less favourably' because of their disability and must 'make reasonable adjustments' to meet the needs of children with SEND. They cannot charge more for a disabled child to attend their setting.
They must also take into account the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice, which requires them to meet the needs of children with special educational needs.
Most providers will have a nominated special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) on their staff, who will be able to discuss what's right for you and your child.
They will also be able to apply to Surrey to access additional support and funding to help pay for extra staff, training or resources that have been identified as necessary to allow your child to attend their setting.
Questions to ask your childcare provider
When you're visiting a childcare provider you'll probably have your own questions, but you might find our suggestions below a helpful starting point:
- What qualifications and/or training do the staff have, and will these be suitable for your child's needs?
- Does your child need extra help and are the staff willing for you (and/or a health professional if appropriate) to show them what they need to do?
- Is the building accessible? Are physical adaptations needed to the building?
- What equipment will be essential in order for my child to go to the provider?
- Are staff happy to be shown how to give my child their medicine? Do they have the relevant insurance?
- Does your child have therapy or appointments that they need to go to in the time they will be cared for and can the childcare provider take your child to these appointments?
Help with childcare costs
There are a number of options available to help parents with paying for childcare and family finances. You may also be entitled to some additional funding through the disabled child element of Child Tax Credit (gov.uk) if you claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child.
There are two additional elements available:
- the disabled child element £3,355 per year for each child in the family claiming DLA or who is registered blind.
- the severely disabled child element £1,360 per year (on top of the disabled child element) for each child in the family claiming the highest rate care component of DLA.
The care component of DLA for children, can also be used to help pay childcare costs. This can range from £23.20 to £87.65 per week depending on the rate you are entitled to.
Direct payments may be made by social care after an assessment of need has been carried out. This can be used to pay for services and equipment personally, instead of having them arranged by your local authority.
Family Fund give grants to lower income families with severely disabled children aged 17 or under to help pay for things to make life easier and more enjoyable. This can include holidays, washing machines, driving lessons, computers and hospital visiting.
Help with transport
Surrey will usually only consider applications for travel assistance for children who already have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. However, they may consider other situations as per Surrey's guide to Travel assistance policy for children and young people with an EHCP/SSEN.
If you feel you may be eligible speak to your child's SEND Case Worker in the first instance as they should be able to assist you with applying for transport.
You can find further information about finding and paying for childcare in our Choosing childcare booklet.
Files available to download
Helping you choose childcare booklet (PDF)
Information for families about choosing, finding and paying for childcare
Checklist - childminder (PDF)
Questions to ask and what to look out for when visiting a childminder
Checklist - nurseries and pre school playgroups (PDF)
Questions to ask and what to look out for when visiting a nursery or pre school playgroup
Checklist - breakfast clubs, after schools clubs and holiday playschemes (PDF)
Questions to ask and what to look out for when visiting a breakfast club, after school club or holiday playscheme