Childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities

"Childcare enables children to understand the world around them, to get used to big groups and to have someone other than you, their parent, caring for them."

Parent of a child with SEND


Good quality childcare is beneficial for all children. It can play a hugely important role in your child's development, allowing them to become independent, to mix with other children and to learn new things. But choosing the right childcare can be a difficult decision for every parent, particularly if your child has a special educational need or disability (SEND).

There are laws to protect children from discrimination and improve support and access to services, play opportunities, education and information. There are details about these laws throughout our guide, below, to help you know what your rights are as a parent.


Family stories

An invaluable source of information about childcare can often be other parents, who you might come into contact with on a regular basis and who have shared the same or similar experiences as you. They can give good insight and tips about how best to access services and how to find appropriate care for your child. We have spoken to number of families of children with special educational needs and disabilities and developed some parents’ stories and advice. Read more...

Guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities in England

Our guide aims to set out what childcare and early support should be available locally in England. It will provide you with your childcare options; offers tips on choosing the right childcare and guidance on what support your local authority (council), early years childcare and schools should – and in some cases MUST – offer you. There is a detailed section on the Education, Health and Care assessments and plans, an outline to the new 0–25 SEND Code of Practice and information on how you can challenge decisions that you are not happy with.

It also looks at the financial help available for childcare costs, including funding specifically for disabled children. You will also find useful contacts and sources of further information at the end of the guide.

*This mainly covers England but some of the services and financial help will also be available in other parts of the UK.
*The term SEND is used throughout and refers to special educational needs and disabilities.
*All benefit rates given are for 2015/16 and will be valid until April 2016.

The 'Guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities' is also available as a booklet from our shop.