Choosing childcare

Babies and young children, who have a health condition like hydrocephalus or spina bifida, have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) requiring specialised care, support and teaching to minimise the risk of being affected by their conditions.

When parents are seeking suitable childcare for a child with SEND then expert advice is vital. This short guide will point parents in the direction of the advice needed when looking for appropriate childcare.

Disabled Children’s Register

For parents looking for specialist childcare, it is a good idea to join the Disabled Children’s Register in your area, once you are aware that your child has additional needs.

You can speak to your Health Visitor about registering or contact your local Family Information Service or FIS, which will be on your Local Authority website, or via the link here.

Finding childcare in your area

  • Your Local Offer lists all of the SEND provision and services in your area for children, young people and adults. On the Local Offer, you can find information about childcare services for children with additional needs. You can find more about your local offer on your Local Authority website.
  • The Family and Childcare Trust has excellent guidance to support families, as they choose suitable childcare for their child with additional needs or complex needs. On the website, there’s Where to Find Information about Local Childcare and real Childcare Stories to read. Follow the link for answers to questions about Group Settings, Childminders and Home Carers.

You can also sign up to the Family and Childcare Trust Newsletter for updates.

Choosing Childcare

When choosing childcare for a child with additional needs, parents will have specific ideas about the type of care they are seeking.

Make sure you have a list of questions to ask and things to look out for, such as:

  • Is there a warm welcome?
  • Do the children there seem happy?
  • How do staff respond to your child?
  • A useful Childcare Finder is the one provided by the Family and Childcare Trust, which gives parents lots of advice and ideas on what to look for when seeking suitable childcare.
  • The Families and Childcare Trust also has 5 Steps to Choosing Childcare, which many parents find useful and has a video to accompany the advice. 
  • Registered Childcare can also be found by looking on the Ofsted Childcare Register.
  • The National Portage Association has good advice on choosing an Early Years setting for a child with SEN and Disabilities.

Childcare costs

You may be entitled to 15 hours or even 30 hours free childcare for your child. If your child has additional needs, you should not be charged any additional fees.

Advice for childcare services about spina bifida and hydrocephalus

Once you have chosen the right childcare provider you will want to give advice about your child’s condition. In order to help you, Shine has some short guides on the effects of the conditions on learning and effective teaching strategies for Early Years settings. You can also contact Shine for advice from our local and national education officers.

Need more help?

If you need to speak with one of Shine’s specialist advisers about spina bifida or hydrocephalus, call us on 01733 555988 or click here to email us.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We aim to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible!

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