Since April, they have been able to claim the additional money under the new £12.5m Disability Access Fund (DAF) and SEN inclusion funding. The funding streams form part of the Early Years National Funding Formula.
Dorset childminder Zoe Baker has received DAF funding for a child in her care, Archie, who has a congenital heart defect.
She told Nursery World, ‘Archie is four years old, he is a confident and adventurous boy, he has a great sense of humour and likes to make others laugh. He loves to express himself through dance and movement.
‘Archie required major surgery when he was a few months old, and will require further surgery when he is older. He has reduced exercise capacity and can become tired and breathless on exertion. He can self-regulate, but sometimes needs encouragement to do so. His levels of exercise need to be monitored so he doesn’t over-exert himself. If he does, he may become ill and need to be admitted to hospital.’
Ms Baker said she has used the funding to purchase a suitable pushchair for Archie as he was becoming too big to use a standard pushchair and felt unsteady on a buggy board.
She has also used the money to buy outdoor resources that require less physical exertion, make adjustments to her garden, and to buy maths and literacy equipment.
Ms Baker said, ‘In the warmer months, we spend a lot of time in the garden – the children I look after enjoy playing games such as chase and football. Archie can only join in with these activities for a short while before needing to rest, so I’ve purchased resources and made adjustments to the garden that involve less physical exertion, such as a large sandpit, a basketball hoop and water-play toys.
‘I’ve also built a superhero-decorated den for somewhere comfortable and inviting to rest and look at books.’
Grove Playgroup, also in Dorset, is in receipt of the DAF funding for two children in its care, one with global development delay and another with significant speech and language difficulties.
The playgroup’s co-ordinator Cheryl Graham said, ‘We are currently considering how best to use the funding and discussing options with parents.
‘One option is to use the money to pay for speech and language training for staff, in particular for new starters, and to pay for an independent speech and language therapist to get a better understanding of the children’s needs.
‘We’re also considering using the funding to pay for cover for myself or my deputy to observe one of the children at the opportunity group they attend alongside our setting.’
HOW IT WORKS
Disability Access Fund (DAF)
The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is designed to make it easier for disabled three and four-year-olds to access their free childcare place by supporting providers to make adjustments to their settings or to build capacity.
Under the national fund, providers can claim £615 per year, per eligible child – a child in receipt of a funded place and receiving disability living allowance (DLA), from their local authority.
However, charities have argued that the amount of money is not substantial enough for each individual child.
In Dorset, 16 children are in receipt of the funding to be used by their childcare setting.
SEN Inclusion Fund
Children aged three and four with lower level or emerging SEN are eligible for the SEN Inclusion Fund.
The Fund is created by local authorities, who decide how much money to set aside and how it will be allocated to childcare providers, following consultation with providers, parents and SEN specialists.
The fund, which forms part of the ‘local offer, is passed on to providers with eligible children in the form of top-up grants on a case by case basis. Local authorities can also use part of their SEN Inclusion Fund to support specialist SEN services in their area.