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Funding to support early years education for children with Down syndrome in England

Children with Down syndrome, aged three or four, receiving government-funded early years education services can benefit from two new funding initiatives that aim to improve support for children with special education needs.

The UK government has recently introduced two new components of early years funding to make it easier for children with special educational needs and disabilities to access and benefit from the free early education and childcare that they are entitled to. This additional funding can be used to pay for specialist training and resources to help early years providers to provide effective support for children with Down syndrome.

(1) Disability Access Fund

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is designed to make it easier for disabled three and four-year-olds to access their free childcare place by supporting providers to make adjustments to their settings or to build capacity.

Early years providers in England can claim a fixed sum (currently £615) each year for each child in receipt of a funded place who is also receiving disability living allowance (DLA).

Early years providers can use this funding to pay for specialist training and resources to help them provide more effective support for each eligible child.

(2) Special educational needs (SEN) inclusion fund

In addition, the government requires every local authority in England to establish a SEN inclusion fund to support early years providers in improving outcomes for children with special educational needs. Each local authority must publish details on how they are using their SEN inclusion fund to support their early years SEN cohort, as part of their published "Local Offer". The information published should include the fund's planned value, eligibility criteria, and the process for allocating the fund to providers.

Services and resources available from DSE to support early education

DSE offers online training, guidance and support for professionals working in Early Years settings. Our online course, Supporting early development for children with Down syndrome from birth to 5 years examines how Down syndrome influences early development and what this means for effective support for young children with Down syndrome from birth.

DSE also offers specialist teaching resources to support early language, reading and speech development. Our See and Learn programmes are available as apps or as physical teaching materials, and come complete with detailed guidance and record keeping forms to monitor progress. Early years providers purchasing printed See and Learn materials for use with a child with Down syndrome may also be able to claim tax relief.

Find out more

To find out more about accessing the Disability Access Fund and SEN inclusion fund in your area, contact your early years provider and your local authority.

Additional information