Paying for childcare: Special educational needs and disabilities

Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should be part of their local community and be included and educated alongside their peers. You can find out about the range of support and opportunities in the Devon SEND Local Offer.

Providers are allowed to charge extra if they need to employ extra staff or limit their provision to fewer children, but are only allowed to charge for the extra costs incurred. All childcare providers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to include children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Information about paying for childcare for all children is available at Childcare Choices.

Other help with paying for childcare for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may be available through the options explained below.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The DAF funding is given to an early years provider (preschool, nursery, childminder) where a three or four-year-old child attends for their early years funded time. The funding is a single annual payment (April to April) of £615.

The funding should be used by providers to make reasonable adjustments to their setting that will enhance inclusive practice. To qualify for the funding the three or four-year-old child must be receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and using Early Years Entitlement Funding.

The Disability Access Fund is not based on an hourly rate and is an additional entitlement. Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to in order to receive the Disability Access Fund. Children in receipt of the Disability Access Fund will be eligible when they take-up any period of free entitlement.

Parents can approach providers to ask them to claim the funding.

Direct payments for children with a disability

Direct payments for children with a disability is money given to families to pay for services and equipment themselves, instead of having them arranged by the Local Authority.

These payments may be provided by social care after an assessment process and can be very useful in allowing parents and carers to choose their own childcare package, including support and services that are not routinely provided by community care services.

Parents/carers could ask for this as part of a short break or as part of a package of care to help them juggle work and caring. To do this, they will need to ask the social worker to arrange for an assessment of their family’s needs.

For more information please see our direct payments information in the SEND Local Offer.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:

  • is under 16
  • has difficulties walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability.

For more information please see www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children.

If you are eligible for tax credits:

  • an extra disability element is added to a child tax credit calculation for each child who receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or is registered blind
  • a ‘severe disability’ element is added if your child receives the highest rate of the DLA care component.

Tax credit helpline: 0345 300 3900.

Tax-Free Childcare

If you’re a working parent with disabled children under 17, you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child – that’s up to £1,000 every three months.

For more information and to apply please see www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.