Make a referral to SEND for under fives

Refer a child that is under 5 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and who has not yet started school.

1 Overview

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) under 5s process seeks to establish proactive, practical support for families at an early stage, as well as identifying the support needed throughout their early years and into school.

The process will be overseen by the early years and childcare advisors who provide inclusion support within early years and childcare settings.

The SEND under 5s support process continues to ensure appropriate discussion, planning and review. It identifies where further assessment is necessary for children in eyears and childcare settings, and eventually school.

Whilst some children have ongoing, complex needs which are clear from a very young age, it is important to make decisions about formal assessments at a time when meaningful educational assessment can take place.

Earlier identification of need will enable children to have a more positive experience through their early years, which will improve their outcomes at this point and as they move through school.

The SEND under 5s support process enables West Sussex local authority and health services to follow the requirements set out in the SEND Code of Practice. In particular, it meets section 5.15.

2 SEND under 5s process

For every child who is referred to the SEND under 5s support process the following stages will take place at different stages of the child’s journey from identification of need to starting school.

  • Stage 1 - Early identification, offer of support. This could include access to local groups, referral to Portage and/or support to find and access Early Years provision.
  • Stage 2 - Support in early years and childcare settings. This includes new children identified with SEND once they have begun accessing early years provision. This could include support from Early Years and Childcare Advisors (EYCAs) and Speech and Language Setting Support (SALSS) to improve the quality of provision, implement the graduated approach and gathering of information for further assessment.
  • Stage 3 - Identification of children. Where appropriate, to go forward for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) and gathering of evidence to share with the SEN Assessment Team (SENAT) or the planning of transition support for children moving on to school.

SEND Under 5s support will be delivered by local groups including representation from:

  • Healthy Child Programme (HCP)
  • EYCAs
  • Speech and Language Therapy Service
  • Portage Co-ordinators
  • other medical professionals
  • West Sussex Parent Carer Forum.

The aim of SEND under 5s is to identify and provide support to children under 5 and their families with SEND, to improve their outcomes and identify the support they will need throughout their early years and into school.

The process and possible outcomes of the SEND under 5s support are:

  • information about local services
  • referral to Portage
  • support to access early years and childcare provision
  • support for early years and childcare providers
  • transition support for children moving to a new setting or school
  • reviewing and gathering evidence to inform next steps, which may include a decision to move to formal assessment.

3 Professional referral form

If you wish to make a referral for a child that you do not believe is currently known to the local authority, we require:

  • the child's name, address and date of birth
  • the parent/guardian's name and contact details (including email address where able)
  • the name of the child's early years provider (if applicable)
  • details of the support you feel is appropriate, after discussions with parents/carers.

Only professionals can refer a child to the SEND Under 5s support process. If you are a parent reading this, and you have concerns about your child, please speak to a professional who is supporting your child. This could be a:

  • doctor or another medical professional
  • health visitor
  • Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at your early years and childcare setting
  • speech and language therapist.

These professional may be able to support you with a referral.

SEND under 5s referral form (external link)

Referrals for SEND under 5s will only be accepted via the online form. Please do not send referrals directly to the SEND under 5s email, as these will not be accepted.

If you have any questions regarding the form or wish to contact the team, please email SENDunderfives@westsussex.gov.uk.

4 Once a referral is received

When a referral is received, the information will be reviewed and passed to the relevant local group. An initial decision will then be made about the next steps based on the information provided. This could include:

  • information about local services
  • referral to Portage
  • support to access early years and childcare provision
  • support within an early years and childcare setting.

Once a lead professional is identified by the SEND under 5s process, they will contact the family directly, or work with the early years and childcare provider where the child is attending to provide updates on the outcomes of the meeting.

If contact is made with the early years and childcare providers where the child attends, the Special Education Needs and Inclusion Co-ordinator (SENCO/INCO), or child’s key person, will update the child’s family.

At each stage of the process the parent/carer will be involved and have opportunities to share their views.

5 Contact details

Last updated:
20 May 2024
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