Skip to main content

Choosing Childcare - special educational needs and disabilities

Shelf full of children's wellington boots

A workbook to support you in choosing the right provision. A printable version is available in our download section.  You may choose to print out a copy, work through each section and share this important information with your setting of choice.

Choosing the right childcare for your child can take time and perseverance. It is essential that parents and settings work together to ensure that the individual needs of a child are met. This workbook has been developed to provide information for parents. It should be used as a practical guide to help ensure the right considerations are made and questions asked, prior to a child taking up a place. Childcare in this workbook covers places in the early years and also out of school care (up to the age of 18 for a child with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability). 

For the purpose of this workbook, the term ‘parent’ also covers carers and legal guardians.

The role of the council in relation to childcare

SCC logo

Staffordshire County Council (SCC) is required by law to ensure there is sufficient childcare for working parents of children up to the age of 14, and aged 18 for children with a disability. SCC meets this duty by working with private, voluntary and independent childcare settings and schools to ensure there is flexible, quality childcare available to meet demand. All childcare settings are required to adhere to the Equality Act 2010, ensuring they offer inclusive places and make reasonable adjustments where appropriate. However, some settings may be better equipped to meet the needs of your child due to the training and skills of staff and/or because their setting provides an environment that may be more appropriate.

Have a think about the reasons you are looking for childcare

Child painting at nursery

For example, if you are a working parent that works shifts, you may need childcare that can be flexible week on week. The statements listed below may help you to identify the type of setting best suited to your family requirements.

  • I want my child to experience socialising with others and have fun
  • I need childcare to allow me to work
  • I want my child to access their statutory entitlement of ‘funded’ childcare
    (see criterion for funded places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds)
  • I need a break/respite/childcare to support family needs
  • Other ..

What type of childcare am I looking for?

In Staffordshire, we have many different types of childcare which can suit the needs of families. Each provider type will vary in terms of age ranges, opening times, ratios and the environment they provide childcare from.
Please visit Staffordshire County Council's main website for more information on what the different types of providers are.

My child’s strengths, interests and needs

Consider these statements to help create a clear picture of your child's strengths, interests and needs

It is essential that any setting which is going to provide care has an understanding of what your child’s strengths are and what they enjoy doing. Similarly, there may be certain things that your child may find difficult and the setting will need to make some adjustments to ensure your child’s needs are met.

  • My child is good at...
  • My child enjoys...
  • My child’s communication preference? (this may include signing or    if they require a visual timetable?)
  • Dietary requirements...
  • Resources/equipment my child needs to help them...
  • Medical support my child will need...
  • My child responds in a particular way to... think about any sights, sounds,  smells, temperatures etc.)
  • My child worries about... (eg. where their lunchbox will be kept, where to    put their coat/belongings)
  • My child is most comfortable in... (small group, playing/earning   independently or in a larger group)

Things I need to ask my child’s new setting

Questions could include:

  • Are there settling in sessions and can I attend with my child (if applicable)?
  • How will the staff get to know the needs of my child?
  • Can the setting access any additional funding to support my child?   (if applicable) If not, how can they ensure they will meet my child’s needs?
  • Is there a transition book or visual aid?
  • Is there a quiet area that my child can go to if they need to?
  • Is the setting able to attend support meetings if required ie. Early Years Forums?
  • Are staff trained to meet my child’s needs if required ie. using an EpiPen  to support an allergy?
  • Do children refer to staff by their first name or surname?
  • What is the routine and organisation of the setting? Can this be adapted to support my child’s needs?
  • Are there any social expectations at the setting?
  • Are there other children who my child can buddy up with?
  • Will there be a named worker I can speak to if my child is ill?

Other things I may need to share with the setting to support my child’s induction

Child at nursery
  • How my child copes with change
  • My child’s care plan
  • Reassurances I will need ie. phone calls if a problem, how to contact provider in an emergency/daily feedback
  • Additional paperwork that may need completing/requirements on the childcare provider to meet my child’s needs

What information can I share as a parent to help my childcare setting support my child?

Purple paint splat

Is there a particular strategy or approach you use at home that supports your child? This may be something that you have trialled and is information that may help the setting? For example, it may be something that helps manage their behaviour or helps them to concentrate.

Final considerations for me, as a parent!

As a parent, it’s understandable that your focus will be to find childcare that is most suitable for your child. However, there are some further factors that you need to consider which are essential to ensure the placement will work in the long term. Here are some factors/pointers for you to consider;

  • Distance from home or work to setting – How far are you able to travel?   Who will be collecting your child on a regular basis?
  • What are the opening times of the setting? Does this meet the needs of your family?
  • Ratios – Will your child cope better in a small group environment? This may inform the type of childcare you look for
  • Costs – what can you afford to pay? (If your child is outside of the age ranges/criteria for a funded place).

    Families may be able to benefit from ‘tax free childcare’ for any hours they pay for. Parents who have a child with SEND (claiming Disability Living Allowance) may be able to claim up to £4,000 per year back in childcare costs. Visit Childcare Choices for more information.

Searching for childcare

Childcare in Staffordshire can be found by visiting Staffordshire Connects.  You can search at a postcode level from where you would like to look for childcare (i.e. home postcode), based on your search results childcare providers can be contacted to confirm availability.

You will also find information about which providers have specific skills and experiences in supporting children with additional needs that you can further ask them about. You may also wish to speak to family, friends and other professionals about local provision. You will then be in a position to meet/speak with them to discuss your requirements.

Extra support and funding available to the childcare setting my child will attend

Settings in Staffordshire are generally well experienced and skilled to meet the needs of all children, including those children with special educational needs and disabilities. You should always look for settings rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ when choosing childcare to ensure that the provision meets the standards assessed by Ofsted, the regulatory body. In the unlikely event that you do experience inclusion issues, you can contact:

Staffordshire Family Information Service


Telephone:  0300 111 8007 or



Telephone: 0300 123 1231

Early years inclusion funding is available to private, voluntary and independent settings for children on funded entitlements in order to provide additional adult support over and above that given to other children in the setting.

Settings can also apply for Disability Access Funding (DAF) for three and four year olds on funded hours that attract Disability Living Allowance (DLA). £615 will be granted to childcare providers and can be used to support access.

Further information on early years special educational needs and disability funding for settings can be found here.

Settings can also seek support from their Area SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators). SENCOs provide professional advice on inclusion and ensure that staff receive the right support to meet the needs of children in their care.

Information about other services and support available to support my child in my local area

Three children pictured inside a paint splat

Staffordshire Local Offer provides information on the education, health and social care services available to support children and young people with SEND and their families.

In addition the Staffordshire SENDIASS provides information, advice and support to parents/carers and children and young people.

Contact us

If you have followed the process outlined in this workbook and are unable to find what you are looking for, you should contact

Family Information Service

Telephone: 0300 111 8007


Address: Family Information Service, Staffordshire County Council,  Stafford ST16 2DH