Support for children with SEND in Early Years

Children with SEND in the early years are identified through a range of checks and assessments across education, health and care. Health staff have a duty to notify the Local Authority of any child under compulsory school age who they think may have SEN or disabilities (Section 3 of the Child and Family 2014 Act) - see early notification form to be completed by health professionals and returned to SEND team.

Professionals across education, health and care work together to meet the needs of early years children.

From Birth to Two Years Old

Many of the more complex needs - developmental, sensory and physical - are identified at birth. Early health assessments, such as the hearing screening test for new born babies, enable very early identification of a range of medical and physical needs. Where the health services anticipate that a child will have SEND when they start school, they can refer the child to the Local Authority.

The needs of children between the ages of 0-2 can change very quickly. Wigan’s graduated approach to meeting needs may often be more valuable to parents at this time so that an EHC needs assessment may not be necessary. You can find more information about the graduated approach in the early years in the High Expectations for All File in Chapter 12, Sections 3 and 6.

From Two to Five Years Old

As part of the Healthy Child Programme, health visitors currently check the physical development of 2 year olds and in Wigan an integrated review, between the early years setting which the child attends and the health visitor, is being rolled out. The Early Learning and Childcare Team (ELCC) coordinate information, advice and support for children in this age range. You can read about the advice and procedures of the ELCC on the Childcare for Children with SEN page.

What support is available?

Where a child in these age groups is identified as having SEN, there is a variety of support, training and provision that parents and early years providers can access. These include: Early Support, Portage and Specialist Support Services including Health Visitors, Educational Psychologists, Therapists, Specialist Teachers of the Deaf or Visual Impairment or Early Years Development Support Workers, who may visit families at home, to provide practical support, answer questions and clarify needs.

Embrace Parent Support Service

Embrace are a local organisation providing support for parents/carers of a child with SEND. This includes:

  • Coordinating services involved in your child’s care to ensure they receive the support they require
  • Targeted emotional support
  • Information on specific disabilities, behaviour and sensory issues
  • Developing your organisation and self-advocacy skills.

For more information or to make a referral to the Embrace Parent Support Service, you can call 01942 233323.

How do I access support?

If you think a child needs this support you should speak to the key professionals involved with your child. The Early Learning and Childcare Team would be the first people to contact and they can tell you more about how to get the support that is available. Following the link will give access to the guidance and referral documents needed to access support from the Early Learning and Childcare Team. For children with hearing and vision needs the Specialist Sensory Education Team may also be able to help.

Early Years additional resources

Where the graduated approach has been followed but it is felt that further additional provision is required a referral for Early Years Additional Resources (EYAR) can be made. 

There are three types of EYAR:

  • Targeted Individual Support (TIS)
  • Education, Health and Care Needs Plan
  • Alternative specialist provision

Further information can be found in High Expectations for All, Chapter 12, Sections 7 and 8. The pathways to support can be found in the Related Documents section on this page.

If the local authority thinks it may need to make special educational provision through an EHC Plan we will conduct an EHC needs assessment. The local authority will also take into account whether it considers that the special educational provision required to meet the child’s needs can reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available or it seems likely that the child will need an EHC plan in school. 

Specific advice for early years children with SEN can be found in the Code of Practice (external link) as follows:

  • Early Years - Chapter 5, pages 67-79, 5.1-5.60
  • EHC needs assessments and plans - Chapter 9, pages 177-179, 9.142-9.149
  • Reviews of EHC plans for children 0-5 - Chapter 9, page 187, 9.178-9.179

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