Childcare funding for children with SEND

This page is all about childcare funding for children and young people with SEND aged from age 2 to 17. It includes:

Funding for parents and cares

  • free early education for 2 year-olds 
  • free early education for 3 and 4 year-olds 
  • funding for working parents and carers

Funding for providers

  • Early years pupil premium
  • Disability Access Fund 
  • Early Years Inclusion Fund 

Funding for parents and carers

Free early education for 2 year-olds

This is for young children:

  • who get Disability Living Allowance
  • with an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • whose parents get benefits including Tax Credits, Universal Credit and Income Support

Learn more about funding for 2 year olds

Free early education for 3 and 4 year-olds

All 3 and 4 year-olds can get 15 free hours of nursery, childminding, preschool, or school reception classes.

Learn more about funding for 3 and 4 year-olds

Funding for working parents and carers

30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds  

Working parents and carers can get 15 extra hours of free childcare, on top of their free early education hours.

Learn more about 30 hours of free childcare

Tax-Free Childcare

Parents of children with a disability:

  • can get funding until they're 17 years old
  • for every £8 put into a childcare account, the government adds an extra £4.

Learn more about Tax-Free Childcare

Childcare voucher scheme

Some employers offer childcare vouchers to help pay for childcare. Working parents and carers of disabled under 16s can get this funding.

Learn more about the childcare voucher scheme

Tax credits

Working parents and carers who get Working Tax Credit can get back up to 70% of childcare costs. This is for disabled children and young people up to 17 years old. 

Learn more about Working Tax Credits

Funding for childcare providers

Early years pupil premium

Nurseries and other providers can get extra money to help improve the children's experience. 

Learn more about early years pupil premium

Disability Access Fund 

Disability Access Fund (DAF) helps childcare providers support under 4s with SEND who get disability living allowance (DLA) and use free early education at nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, but not in school reception classes.

Providers can get £615 per year for each child with SEND. DAF can pay for changes to the building or extra places for young children with SEND. 

How to claim the DAF 

Providers need to ask parents who get DLA for a copy of the DLA award letter. Then they can fill in the DAF application form.

Providers can get up to £615 per child per year. If a child gets childcare in more than one place, only the main provider can claim. DAF should be claimed from the local authority where the provider is based.

If a child moves from one provider to another in a financial year, the new provider can’t claim DAF in that year. The old provider won’t have to pay any money back.

For more information on how early years providers can access this funding, please email

Early Years Inclusion Fund 

The Early Years Inclusion Fund (EYIF) helps early years providers support the needs of individual children with lower-level or emerging SEN. 

Who is it for? 

EYIF is for providers to use in their setting for 3 and 4 year-olds who: 

get free early education funding 

are behind their expected level of development by six months or more, in at least two areas of learning 

EIF is not for 2 year-olds who get free early education funding. It is also not for children with more complex needs, or children with an education, health and care (ECH) plan. High Needs Funding should meet their needs. 

How is it being used? 

In the past, part of the fund has been used to purchase toilet training by ERIC for all early years settings to access. It paid for 50 educational psychologist (EP) visits between September 2020 and March 2021. The helped early years providers better support children with lower-level or emerging SEN. The rest was given to individual early years providers. 

How to claim the Early Years Inclusion Fund 

When they have identified a child who needs extra support, providers should get the parent or carers consent. They then complete an application form showing how they have been meeting the child’s needs and checking their progress. 

 Applications should be sent to  

How else could it be used? 

Any way that will put in early low-level support that improves outcomes for the child and reduces long-term costs. 

Examples include: 

  • support to produce resources for specific children who don’t need one-to-one support 
  • extra staff time to support specific interventions 
  • specialist training to up-skill staff members, staff teams or whole staff groups
  • specialist support, such as speech and language therapy, which might also benefit other children
  • support for coordinating key worker duties, such as a team around the child 
  • helping children transition to school, such as releasing staff to help a child spend time at the school they are moving to
  • support to produce resources for specific children where they may not need one-to-one worker support

If you have any questions, you can email us at