Extra help for pre-school children

Children up to statutory school age with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may be able to get home visits, extra teaching and funding to help with their development.

There are 3 teams who help:

There are different services for children:

Ask for extra help

If you think your child needs extra help with their development, the first step is to discuss concerns with professionals involved. If needed, an application to the Early Years team can be made.

The Early Years Referral Panel will look at your application and decide which service is best placed to meet your needs. The panel meets weekly during the term-time.

Your child can also be referred by their:

  • nursery, pre-school, playgroup or childminder
  • public health nurse (health visitor)
  • paediatrician
  • any other professional involved
Funding available for families

Disability Living Allowance


Make a referral to the Early Years SEND panel

If you need to make a referral to the Early Years SEND panel for support from the service, please complete our online referral form:

Complete our online referral form

When you have submitted this referral form, a PDF version of it can be downloaded for your own records.

If you cannot access the above link, please contact EYSENISAdmin@leics.gov.uk or phone 0116 3057136. They will be able to support you to access the link, or provide you with a paper copy of the referral for you to complete.

Portage service

Portage is a home-based educational service for children from birth to 3 years old. Portage home visitors build strong relationships with parents/carers and they give practical help and advice through home and/or setting visits. Children and parents are also offered access to group sessions which are run in localities around the county. Family events are run throughout the year, when families can come together.

Referrals to the service are considered at the Early Years Panel. Referrals can be made by parents, health professionals and setting SENCOs.

Leicestershire’s Portage service is accredited by the National Portage Association (NPA).

When your child is 3 years old

Your child may be transferred to the Early Years SEND Inclusion team if they continue to need support.

Early Years SEND Inclusion team

Specialist advisors and practitioners may visit your child and your family at home or at their nursery or both. They work with children who have a:

  • much greater difficulty in learning than most others of the same age
  • disability that stops them doing activities that most other children of the same age can do

They work with children from 3 years old until they start school.

Your Early Years SEND Inclusion advisor or practitioner can:

  • teach your child in your home and show you how you can teach your child
  • use play to help your child learn by observing and imitating them – this is called modelling learning
  • give you and the nursery advice on how to improve your child’s learning, communication, personal and emotional skills
  • contribute to an assessment
  • tell you about other help you can get for your child

Early Years Communication and Interaction advisors and practitioners

Specialist advisors and practitioners work with children with a diagnosis of autism, on the pathway of a diagnosis, or with social communication and interaction needs, from birth until their first term in school. They may work at home, or in settings or both. They can:

  • develop understanding around sensory processing and social communication
  • model some strategies for parents and professionals
  • give advice about environments and the role of the adult in the nursery
  • contribute to an assessment

Early Years Inclusion practitioners

The Inclusion Practitioners work with children at risk of exclusion, until they are statutory school age. This work is based in settings and schools and can take the form of:

  • Advice
  • Modelling
  • Intensive support
  • Supporting dual placements
  • Supporting statutory assessments

Early Years Inclusive Play sessions

If you have contact with our service, via one of the four teams, you can access one of our Inclusive Play Sessions. Inclusive play sessions run in the school holidays in various locations around the county. More information can be sought from your child's practitioner/advisor.

Graduated Approach booklet

Where a child continues to make less than the expected progress, despite evidence-based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need, practitioners in early years settings should consider involving appropriate specialists, the decision to be taken with the child’s parents.

The Graduated Approach booklet helps providers identify need and put in the appropriate strategies to support the child, before seeking this additional guidance from specialists. This is used as part of the Graduated Approach of Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

Accessing provisions if your child has specific medical needs

For some medical conditions, it is vital that the staff at the Early Years provision have the necessary training to be able to meet your child’s medical needs. This is something that you, as parents, need to start considering early to avoid any delays in your child start date.

Most health care training is provided by the Diana Service. Training courses include:

  • Enteral feeding (Gastrostomy and nasogastric feeding)
  • Respiratory care (oral suction, inhalers and nebulisers and oxygen)
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Epilepsy awareness
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Oxygen saturation monitoring

Sometimes in-house advice and training can be provided by professionals, such as a physiotherapist, showing staff how to remove and replace splints, how to position a child into a standing frame or how to help children who are non-ambulant transfer from one place to another.

Some children may have a specialist nurse who will come to the setting to talk about the child’s condition and how best to support them at pre-school; for example, diabetes nurses and Macmillan nurses.

The Early Years provision will contact the relevant teams to organise this training if needed.

Diana training - information for parents and providers

Home Learning Packs

We have developed some home learning packs that help you as a parent or carer to support your child.

The activity sheets cover the following areas: sensory play, symbolic play, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and interaction skills. Each activity sheet is aimed at the following developmental stages: 0-11 months, 12-24 months and 24+ months. We have deliberately chosen activities that use resources you will either already have at home, or that are relatively inexpensive to buy.

Sensory play

Symbolic play

Gross motor skills

Fine motor skills

Interaction skills