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Choosing childcare for children with SEND

Last Updated 02/09/2019

All parents have a lot to think about when choosing childcare for their child. For parents of children who may have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), the process can be particularly challenging. Visiting multiple childcare providers to get a sense of the support they can provide can be invaluable and set your mind at rest. 

To try and make it simpler for you to make decisions about the best childcare options for your child, you might want to ask the providers you meet, the following questions:

  1. How long have you been working with children? What experience do you have of supporting children with additional needs?
  2. What qualifications and/or training do the staff have here? Have staff received training to support with meeting my child's needs?
  3. Are your staff trained to give medication or to use specific equipment?
  4. Can I look around the building to see the rooms and outside play areas?
  5. Where will my child rest?
  6. What kind of food and drink will you give? Can you support my child’s dietary needs?
  7. What will my child be doing throughout day?
  8. How would you approach my child’s disability with other children/parents?
  9. Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they?
  10. How will you communicate with me about my child’s progress and needs?
  11. How does the setting manage during an emergency?

In the video below from the Coram Family and Childcare Trust, mum Jade talks about how excellent communication and small adaptations from her childcare provider helped her son, Preston, who has autism, to develop, learn new skills and engage with other children his own age. 

For more videos about childcare experiences from parents of children with SEND,as well as information and guidance on choosing the right provider, please visit the Coram Family and Childcare Trust page.



Specific questions for a childminder

If you are thinking about using a childminder to help look after you child, you may find it useful to ask them the following questions:

  1. Do you currently have any vacancies?
  2. How long have you beeb childminding?
  3. What extra training have you done?
  4. What other children do you care for, and how old are they?
  5. Are you an inclusive setting and what particular knowledge and expertise do you have to enable you to care for children with SEND?
  6. Can you supply me with references from other parents?
  7. Do you charge for sick days and holidays?
  8. Have you got a copy of your policies or a prospectus?
  9. Do you have a copy of your latest Ofsted Inspection Report?
  10. Which rooms do you use for childminding? Pleasde may I be shown around?
  11. Where will my child sleep?
  12. How do you spend the day and how will the other children’s schedules fit in with my child? What outings and experiences do you offer the children?
  13. Do you provide properly-fitted car seats?
  14. What kind of meals and drinks do you provide?
  15. Do you keep a file about a child’s progress?
  16. Do you offer a settling-in period?

Also please remember

  • Look to see the childminder’s up-to-date registration/approval, public liability insurance and first aid certificates on display.
  • Check all rooms and the garden are registered and insured; otherwise your child will be excluded from those areas.
  • Ask how many other adults will be in the house.
  • Agree on feeding, learning, TV watching and discipline policies, etc.
  • It is very important to discuss the contract; it should cover hours, pay, sickness, holiday and bank holiday pay. Remember to keep the signed contract safe so you can refer to it in the future.
  • Ask whether the childminder can provide funded early education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Ask whether they offer “blended provision” and will take your child to a local pre-school and pick them up afterwards if you choose to use this option when your child is old enough. (It is possible to share the funding between 2 settings).

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