Choosing Childcare for Disabled Children
Childcare away from your home
Childcare in your home
The Equality Act applies to childcare providers. They are not allowed to discriminate against disabled children and must make ‘reasonable adjustments’. They are allowed to charge extra if they need to employ extra staff or limit their provision to fewer children, but they are only allowed to charge for the extra costs incurred.
All local authorities in England are required to publish a ‘Local Offer’. The Local Offer is designed to provide information in one place for families with children and young people with a special educational need or disability (SEND). This should include information about childcare options, including expertise to support children with a special educational need or disability.
The Local Offer should be published on your council’s website, and also be made available in a printed copy. You will normally be able to access it by searching “local offer” and the name of your local authority on an online search engine.
Childcare away from your home
A childminder cares for other people’s children in their own home. Childminders who look after under eights must, by law, be registered by OFSTED. The will check qualifications, inspect their premises, carry out criminal record checks and set limits on the number of children they can care for at one time.
Many local authorities operate Childminder Networks of childminders who have had some extra training relating to disabled children and receive extra support. You will need to share with the childminder all your knowledge of your child’s needs whether they have basic disability training or not. Although childminders are not allowed to discriminate, they are self-employed, so are in a position to select their own clients. Local Family Information Services have details of local childminders
There are nurseries run by local authorities, community nurseries and privately run nurseries. They all have to be inspected and registered. Nurseries have fixed hours and only cater for under fives above a minimum age. If your child has been allocated some hours in a local authority nursery because they are deemed to be ‘in need’ you may be able to pay for the extra hours you need to cover your working hours.
Childcare provision for primary school-age children is often provided by way of clubs before or after school and in the holidays. Typically they are held on or near school premises. It is less usual for special schools to run these clubs. Clubs on school premises and some others are eligible for the childcare element of Working Tax Credit (WTC).
There are few provisions for children of secondary school age although local authorities and disability organisations sometimes run short-term schemes for disabled children. Because childminders only look after a few children they are in a position to adjust their practice to look after older children.
If your local authority provides transport, ask if you want them to collect/deliver your child from/to your childcare provider. They may be flexible.
Childcare in your home:
Make sure that you understand the extent of any training or experience candidates claim to have and insist on seeing original certificates. Some nannies specialise in caring for disabled children. Whatever their experience, you are the expert on your child and can share your knowledge with them. Always take up at least two references, preferably by phone. In order for the costs to be eligible for the childcare element of WTC the nanny has to be approved, see www.hmrc.gov.uk. If you are looking for a carer for an older child you might want to check out local care and nursing agencies. If the agency is registered the care will be eligible for the childcare element of WTC.
If you use an au pair, check out the regulations including those concerning visas, hours of work and pay. As with nannies (above), you may want to check that they have relevant training and experience to meet the needs of your child.
Contact http://www.cafamily.org.uk/ helpline: 0808 808 3555
For information on finding childcare in England and Wales contact your local Family Information Service. Find your local Family Information Service.
In Scotland contact the Scottish Family Information Service. If you live in Northern Ireland contact your local health and social services community trust for more information.
HM Revenue & Customs Helpline (for WTC claims) 0345 300 3900 – www.hmrc.gov.uk
Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) – www.pacey.org.uk
An overview of Working Tax Credit – www.gov.uk