Special needs childcare

children paintingIf you’re looking for special needs childcare, the Cambridgeshire Local Offer, is a good starting point.

The Local Offer details county services and support for 0-5s with special educational needs and disabilities. And has a SEND childcare page covering options such as nursery places, child minders, preschool and after school clubs as well as holiday clubs.

Learn about getting childcare for children with disabilities

Some two year olds can get free childcare and early learning (if a parent gets certain benefits or the child has an EHCP or gets Disability Living Allowance. More information

Expansion of childcare support for working parents to help more families.

If you’re a working parent with a child aged 2 years or older, you’ll now be eligible for up to 15 hours a week of funded early education and childcare during term time. This support will be gradually introduced, starting in April 2024.

April 2024: Working parents with 2-year-olds can access up to 15 hours per week of funded early education and childcare.
September 2024: Working parents with children aged 9 months to 3 years can also receive up to 15 hours per week of funded early education and childcare.
September 2025: Working parents with children aged 9 months to 3 years can enjoy up to 30 hours per week of funded early education and childcare.  More information

All children become eligible for free childcare and early learning places from the school term after their third birthday. Free early learning and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. More information.

Finding a place

All childcare settings are able to support a child with special educational needs and/or disabilities, although some may have particular skills or expertise. You can find a childcare directory of local providers on the county council website – you can search by postcode and can filter results by type of childcare, child’s age, opening times.

Families Information Service

This service provides information, advice and guidance to families across Cambridgeshire. They manage the Cambridgeshire Childcare Directory and offer one-to-one support for families with children and young people aged 0 to 25. Their advice is free, confidential and impartial.

They can help with:

  • finding childcare
  • understanding childcare funding options
  • childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and the SEND Local Offer

Email: fis@cambridegshire.gov.uk

Tel: 0345 045 1360

Childcare funding

Find out about childcare funding for children with additional needs. More information on the county council website.

30 hours free childcare

From September 2017, working families of three and four year olds have been entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare.

This is on top of the existing 15 hours of free early education for all parents of three and four year olds and some two year olds.

National charity Contact supports UK families who have a child/young person with a disability. It estimates that the 30 hours free childcare offer is worth around £5,000 per child.

Are you eligible? Check on Contact’s eligibility webpage

Other useful links on the Contact website:

Need information and advice?

Contact’s helpline (Freephone): 0808 808 3555
9.30am-5pm, Monday-Friday; free from UK landlines and UK mobiles

Guide to Childcare for children with additional needs and disabilities

The Family and Childcare Trust has an updated guide for parents – of children with SEND in England.

Understand your rights as parent, support and financial options available towards childcare, EHC plans, appeal procedures and more.

The guide provides you with your childcare options; offer 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.

Early Support: specialist support for 0-5s

Who is Early Support for?

Cambridgeshire young children – aged up to five – who have significant and complex additional needs or disability and who need specialist support across education, health and care. This includes children who have great difficulty communicating, have sensory, learning or physical difficulties and/or complex health needs.  The parent carer leaflet introduces the service and what it can offer.

There are three Early Support Coordinators across the county – contact your local one for more information, help and support.

Read more about the Early Support Pathway on the Local Offer pages of the county council website.

New leaflets for 0-5s

leaflet coverThese four leaflets have recently been produced by parents and professionals for parents/carers of children 0-5 years with additional needs.

Working and Caring

How do you combine working and caring?

Staying in paid work can be hugely challenging when you have a disabled child or young person with additional needs to care for.

Working Families logoKnowing your rights can help and charity Working Families has a dedicated network and advice service for parents of disabled children who work or wish to work. This video provides further information:

Need advice about employment rights and benefits for working parents and carers? Working Families runs a free legal helpline.

Call 0300 012 0312 or email advice@workingfamilies.org.uk for free legal advice.

Resources from RIFT

The RIFT Group has a new in-depth online resource they created about childcare entitlements and benefits for parents.

The guide offers lots of helpful information such as:

  • A comprehensive look at the
    many forms of UK government support, entitlements, and benefits to help parents with childcare such as support  from Universal Credit, the Tax-Free Childcare system, free vouchers, and child tax credits.

  • Practical and useful information
    about each childcare support system, scheme, and benefit; how they work, who are qualified, and how to claim these benefits.

  • Understanding Tax-Free Childcare:
    what parents can receive, other benefits like childminders, nurseries, after-school clubs and play schemes, and details on how to qualify and apply.

  • Links to other useful childcare
    resources and information that many parents will find helpful.

You can read the guide here.