Support for children with SEND in early years

To support your child in their early years setting (nurseries, pre-schools and childminders) the provider must follow the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

The EYFS is a national framework which sets the standard for learning development and care for children from birth to the end of reception year at school. Written assessments are given to parents when a child is 2 years old and when they reach the end of reception year.

If you have concerns about your child, the first step is to talk to your child’s keyperson and ask whether they share your concerns and what the education setting can do to help.

Childcare providers are trained and follow advice and guidance to help all children they look after to develop. There are lots of different ways they can play with and help your child to learn, so they will try and find methods that work best for them. Those working with your child will be given a booklet called Best Practice Guidance to make sure your child's needs are met, alternatively you can read a family guide to the Best Practice Guidance (PDF, 808.5 KB).

Ages 2 to 3 years old

When your child is between 2 and 3, a review must take place to track their progress. A document will be provided summarising your child’s strengths and highlight any areas where development is not as expected. Your childcare provider will discuss this with you and put support in place if this is needed.

At this time your health visitor will invite you to attend an appointment to check your child's physical development milestones as part of the Healthy Child Programme and discuss any concerns. If concerns are identified, you may be offered the opportunity to attend an integrated review at two meeting. This meeting allows both review processes to be brought together.

The review will be at your child's early years setting so they can be observed playing in a familiar environment. You will be given the opportunity to discuss their strengths and needs. Afterwards a joint decision can be made about any additional support or referrals that would benefit your child.

A plan will be put in place with you, which must follow the national requirements set out in the SEND code of practice (page 82 to 88).

Additional support

If they feel they can’t meet all of your child's needs, they may ask for advice from the Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT). You’ll be asked for consent before your child is discussed at a LIFT meeting.

LIFT are a group of specialists and practitioners from other early years settings. Their aim is to find solutions, offer advice, look at your child's strengths and the difficulties they face and see how they can help. This could include help from:

Read our parent guide to LIFT (PDF, 95.5 KB).

Additional resources can be requested via the special educational needs inclusion fund (SENIF).

Education, health and care plans

Your child's early years setting may suggest you ask for a formal assessment of their learning needs, if they require additional specialist support. They will look at the support that is currently being provided, and anything additional that could be provided on top.

If required, this may result in an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Parent support

As well as the support that is given by your child's early years provider, you can also contact the following support networks to help you during your child's early years:

Jargon buster

We also understand that the language of special educational needs can be difficult to understand, we try and explain any terms as we use them to help you. Information, Advice and Support Kent (IASK) have put together a jargon buster so you can see all the common words and abbreviations you may come across in one place and refer back to it when you need to.