Funding for early years SEND

Funding for early years SEND

What funding is available to all providers offering early education to meet the needs of children with SEND

SEN support for children in early years should come from a cycle, known as the graduated approach. This means that when you identify a child as needing support to meet their special educational needs, the setting’s SENCO should carry out an assessment of their needs. 

The SEND Code of Practice says you should agree in consultation with the child’s parents:

  • how to respond to the child's needs by putting in place interventions and support
  • the expected impact on the child’s progress
  • a clear date for review

The four stages of the graduated approach cycle are:

  • assess
  • plan
  • do 
  • review

This approach is designed to make sure that providers revisit earlier decisions and actions so that goals can be refined as you get a clearer understanding of the child’s needs.

Further information on the Graduated approach.

What funding is available in Early Years

Early years providers can get funding to provide support for children with SEN from: 

  • universal funding
  • targeted funding
  • Early Years Special Educational Needs Panel funding

Universal funding

Providers get an amount per hour, per child, which early years settings get whether a child has SEND or not. 

Targeted funding

Funding for three and four year olds, based on a deprivation supplement paid for each child depending on their home postcode.

Early Years Special Educational Needs Panel funding

Early Years Special Educational Needs Panel funding is for children with very complex needs. 

Apply for early years funding

The Disability Access Fund

The Disability Access Fund provides an additional £615 each year to help early years providers make adjustments to their settings that support disabled children. It’s available to three and four year olds who get Disability Living Allowance and go to an early years childcare provider for universal free entitlement.

The Disability Access Fund information sheet (pdf, 217k) (opens new window) tells you how to claim this funding.

How we pay Early Years Special Educational Needs Panel funding to a setting

The funding we pay:

  • goes directly to the setting where the child is registered
  • transfers with the child when they move to a different setting
  • can be shared across each setting if the child goes to more than one place while taking up the 15 hours of funded entitlement
  • is extended to cover additional hours for three and four year olds if parents are eligible to claim for a further 15 hours of additional funded entitlement
  • is extended to cover additional hours if parents are paying for childcare

How we decide on the appropriate level of funding

We use a banding system called the Early Years Bristol Universal Descriptors to decide what level of funding is appropriate for a child, based on their individual needs.