Choosing childcare for pre-school aged children with SEND

How to find childcare for pre-school children aged 0-5 years and what you should check if your child has special educational needs or a disability.

Find childcare

Search our family information directory to find a list of providers within your area.

Find childcare  

We are currently working with all Early Years providers across Leicestershire to develop a tailored SEND report that will be easily accessible to all parents looking for childcare. The reports will be available under each individual provider when following the above link.

What to consider

When you are making a decision about the right childcare provider for your child, you may want to consider:

  • The provisions that are available and the size of the provision. For example, if you know your child doesn't like large open spaces or noisy environments, it may be worth considering a smaller provision or childminder.
  • The qualifications and experience that staff hold – do they use Makaton or PECS? Are they BSL trained? Have they undertaken any qualifications around Autism? Have they worked with children with similar needs in the past?
  • Any differentiation in their transitional support – is your child allowed additional visits? Are you, as their parents/carers, allowed to stay for some sessions?
  • What is their accessibility – do you need to consider ramps, so your child can access all areas independently?
  • How secure is the provision? For example, can the children reach any handles?
  • What changing facilities or accessible toilets are there in the provision?
  • Do they use health plans and what are their protocols for any emergencies?
  • Staff ratios – how many adults to children?
  • If your child may need 1:1, will this be a consistent person or on a rota for a group of adults?
  • Quality of the equipment and activities available
  • The provisions behaviour policy
  • How you will be notified and updated about the day – do they use home learning books or tapestry from example?
  • How lunch and snack times work – what if your child has any dietary needs or feeding equipment, how would this impact on their lunch times?
  • Experiences of working with wider professionals, including health teams, EYSEND advisors, Portage practitioners, Area SENCO’s, Speech and Language Therapists, Psychologists etc.
  • What their transitional support looks like, either moving from room to room or from provisions to school.

These are just some ideas to consider. Remember, as parents/carers, you know your child the best and will know what they need from their Early Years provision.

Find an Ofsted inspection report

Get support

Children up to statutory school age with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) may be able to get home visits and extra teaching to help with their development.

For more information please visit Extra help for pre-school children, where you can find support that’s available, including support to access a provision if your child has a medical need.

Free childcare

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to free early education and childcare. Your child might be able to get free childcare from 2 years old if they have special educational needs and receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA).