What to expect from your childcare setting

What you can expect from a childcare setting for special education needs or disabilities (SEND) and how to make a complaint.

All childcare settings should be inclusive, safe and meet the SEND Code of Practice 2015. Settings must adapt the way they work to ensure all children can learn.

These adaptations may include:

  • positioning and height of activities and resources
  • pictures or items to help children communicate their needs, wants and feelings
  • picture prompts to aid understanding and following of routines
  • reflecting different interests and learning styles, both in and outdoors, for example busy and quiet spaces
  • appropriate and adequate facilities to meet your child’s toileting needs.

Your child's setting should work with you to find out how you do things at home. This enables a consistent approach while your child settles in. You know your child and are the best source of information on what has or hasn’t supported them in the past.

You may have received training to undertake a specific task to support or care for your child. If this is the case, setting staff can receive training too.

Medical needs

If your child has any medical needs it is important that you let staff at the setting know. It is useful to show them any letters and reports you may have. There may be extra support available to the setting to accommodate your child's needs. See the 'Support for childcare settings' section below.

Early years childcare settings

Settings for 0 to 5 year olds must follow the standards in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The EYFS follows your child’s interests with an emphasis on learning through play. By following these standards, settings should tailor learning opportunities to meet the needs of each individual child.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often thrive in a pre-school or nursery environment. You may decide that a childminder might better meet your child’s individual needs. Whatever you choose, it will be a good opportunity for your child to develop alongside their peers.

Support for childcare settings

If necessary, your provider can request support to include your child. They should contact West Sussex County Council's Family Information Service. Speech and Language Therapists or Early Years and Childcare Advisors can also give support.

Professionals can help plan your child's entry to the setting. They can also observe your child with staff and other children once they have started. They can discuss with you and setting staff how their provision can adapt to meet your child's needs. Follow up visits can occur to check the success and supportiveness of plans.

Support for settings for children with medical needs

Sometimes further support may be necessary, including more equipment, training or staff. West Sussex County Council may be able to provide inclusion funding for this.

If your child receives Disability Living Allowance, money is available to the setting through the Disability Access Fund. Payment goes to the setting so that they can make adjustments to support your child. This could include purchasing specialist resources, equipment or making adaptations to their environment.


You can expect to receive positive responses about provision for children with SEND from all settings.

If you do not, you can make a complaint to Ofsted.

If the provider wishes to exclude your child because they have additional needs or a disability, or you feel they are not catering for their specific needs, contact the Family Information Service. Ask to speak to the Specialist Team who will take all the necessary details and refer to an Early Years and Childcare Adviser as appropriate.

You can contact the Family Information Service using the details below.

Contact us

For full details of childcare across West Sussex see our Childcare and early education pages.