Local Offer - Early Years - Childcare and Early Education

All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with SEN or disabilities and to promote equality of opportunity. These requirements are set out in the EYFS framework.

  • Two toddlers playing with wooden toys

Finding and Choosing an Early Years Provider

What is an early years provider?

An early years provider looks after children aged 0-5 years. They can include childminder’s, day nurseries, pre-schools, and holiday play schemes. It can also include childcare in your own home such as nannies and au-pairs.

How do I find a childcare provider?

The easiest way to find a local childcare provider is to use the online FIS Childcare Finder. You can use the online tool to search for settings which meet your needs.

If you can't find a suitable provider, you can contact Families Information Service (FIS) for support.

How do I choose a childcare provider?

Choosing the right early years provider can be a difficult decision for a parent or carer, particularly if the child has special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND). You might feel nervous about leaving your child but remember that early education can play an important role in child development as it gives children an opportunity to mix with others, gain independence and learn new skills.

The first thing you will need to do when choosing a childcare provider is to make a list of things you require, for example, the days and hours you need childcare and the area you would prefer childcare in.

You can then use the FIS Childcare Finder to search for settings which meet your needs and make a list of the ones you wish to consider. If you can't find a setting which can meet your needs, you can contact Families Information Service (FIS) for help.

Once you have made a shortlist of providers that you would like to consider, make a checklist of all the things that are important to you and your child; this will help you to ask the right questions when you visit. It's best to visit several childcare settings so that you can compare each one and have a broader idea of what’s available. This will help you decide which setting you think will best meet your child's needs.

Before your visit, we recommend you take a look at the provider’s website, especially their SEND information and policy which they must make available to you (you can ask for a copy of this if it isn’t readily available online). Most settings have a social media pages, so you may also wish to have a look at these too as they will allow you to gain a glimpse of what kind of activities your child may experience at the setting.

It’s important to look at their most recent Ofsted report – new settings may not have an inspection report yet, but don’t less this deter you. All settings have to have an initial registration visit from Ofsted before they are allowed to open, to ensure they meet the requirements to provide childcare at a level which Ofsted expects. 

After your visit, the setting may provide you with some documents such as their parent handbook, their enrolment policy and their transition procedures. Make sure you take a moment to read through these documents as they can provide important information and answer questions which you may not have thought about at the time of your visit. You may also wish to ask the setting about their current improvement plan for the setting. All of these bits of information will help you decide which setting is right for you and your child. 

For further information on childcare, please see the helpful links below:

How do I know the provider can meet my child's needs?

When choosing an early years provider, you should make sure to visit the setting to look at the premises and talk to staff to make sure that you are comfortable with the care and education that that are offering. All early education providers are required, by law, to be inclusive and they must follow the requirements set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.. Providers must work closely with parents to promote the learning and development of all children in their care and this means that they must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities as per the SEND Code of Practice.

One of the key aspects of the SEND Code of Practice is a process of observation and planning to meet children’s individual needs – this is called the ‘graduated approach' but you might also hear this referred to as 'assess, plan, do review’ (APDR). This helps to make sure that the support and interventions that children may require are planned into their daily routine and are also under review, to ensure the support meets the child's needs at that point in time. You can find out more about the graduated approach on our SEN webpage.

In addition to this, Ofsted frequently inspect early education providers to make sure that children are safe and their needs are met. 

What support is available to help my child access an early years provider?

Some children find transitions between home and new environments difficult. To help with this, your child will be allocated a key worker and you will be able share any information that may make the transition smoother. For example:

  • Do the staff in the setting need any special training?
  • Are there resources or equipment that need to be shared or transferred?
  • What are you child’s likes, dislikes and SEND needs

Lots of things can be done to help your child settle, such as them taking a comforter, having pictures and photographs of things that are important to them and often a communication book.

Sometimes professionals who work alongside your child will support transition and they often have some very helpful good strategies and advice to share with settings to make sure that children are fully included and enjoy their time alongside their peers.

In Doncaster, early years providers can seek advice from the Early Years Inclusion Team (EYIT) to support inclusive practice. 

You can find out more about transitioning to an early years provider or school further down this page. 

Seedlings Nursery

Seedlings is an Ofsted registered nursery for children, aged 2-5 years, who have social or communication needs, or who are on the autism pathway. The nursery is run by the Early Years Inclusion and Portage Team and is located at Maple Medical Pupil Referral Unit, in Balby, Doncaster. The nursery gained 'Outstanding' grading from Ofsted in 2022 and achieved the Inclusive Quaity Mark in 2019 and recently won the 'Pre-School of the Year' award at the Nursery World Awards 2023. 

How can my child register with Seedlings?

Seedlings isn't like most nurseries - it's not possible to approach the nursery directly to sign your child up. To request a place for your child at Seedlings, a referral must be made to the Early Years Support Panel by:

  • Consultant and community paediatricians
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Members of the multi-disciplinary Autism Spectrum Assessment Pathway (ASAP) team

If other professionals wish to make a referral for a place at Seedlings they should seek supporting advice from a member of the ASAP team.

If you'd like to find out more about Seedlings, you can contact the Early Years Inclusion Team on 01302 862103 or email earlysupportpanel@doncaster.gov.uk

Funding and Help to Pay for Childcare

Funded Childcare

There are currently three different types of funded childcare which children can access. These are:

Other Schemes to Help Pay for Childcare

Working families may be entitled to support through one of these schemes:

If you're a student, you may be able to get help with childcare while you study.

Schemes include:

  • Care to Learn - for learners under 20 who are in school or sixth form.
  • Learner Support - for learners over 20 who are accessing further education
  • Childcare Grant - for learners who are in full-time higher education

Find out more about help paying for childcare while you study on the Gov.uk website.

Early Intervention Allowance (EIA)

In line with the SEND Code of Practice, when early years providers have identified a child is not meeting their current milestones, or may have an SEN, they are required to have a discussion with the child's parents and make contact with their Area Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). In some instances, this may result in an application for Early Intervention Allowance (EIA).

EIA is available for 0-4 year old children accessing school nurseries, private, voluntary and independent provisions, including childminders who are accessing their early education entitlement or funded by parents/guardians. The purpose of EIA is to assist providers, to implement strategies to support children’s learning and development; for example, by helping fund specialist resources or additional staffing. 

Applications can only be made by your child’s early years provider, but they must have parental consent.

Disability Access Funding (DAF)

If your 3 or 4 year old receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) then their early years provider, where they access their universal 15 hour funding, will be able to claim an annual payment of £881, from the Disability Access Fund (DAF). This payment helps your provider better support your child whilst they are in their setting. If your child splits their universal 15 hours funding between two or more settings then you can choose which provider can claim the funding.

It's always worth checking with your provider to see if they have made a claim for DAF for your child. To claim the funding, your provider needs to submit a copy of your child's DLA letter along with your signed Parental Declaration Form. If your child starts to receive DLA part-way through the year, let your provider know as soon as possible to ensure they claim this extra money.

From April 2024, DAF is being extended to 2-year-olds who receive DLA and funded childcare.

Raising Concerns About the Quality of Care at a Childcare Provision

If you have concerns about the quality of care offered in a childcare setting, you should raise these with the childcare provider directly. Each childcare provider should have a complaints procedure which you can follow. If you still have concerns about the quality of care provided, you can escalate your concerns to Ofsted.


We all experience transitions in life and young children will go through a number of changes in their early education such as from home to grandparents, early years setting or to school, from one early years setting to another, or from an early years setting to a school.

Your role as a parent/carer is important to support children to get ready for these transitions. Some children take transitions in their stride and some children need support. There are many things you can do to help to ensure it is a positive experience.

Transitioning from Home to Nurseries and/or Childminders

When will my child start nursery or at a childminder?

Children can start accessing an early years provision at different ages. Some children may attend a nursery or childminder setting before they turn one-years-old, if their parent/carers return back to work or if their parent/carers feel their child would benefit from being in an early years setting. Other children may wait until they're eligible to access their early education entitlements (funded childcare) before they join an early years provision. Early education entitlements can be accessed:
  • The term after a child's second birthday for eligible children
  • The term after a child's third birthday for all children
The amount of funded hours a child receives depends on their age and eligibility. You can find out more information about how early learning and childcare is being delivered in Doncaster on the FIS website.

What happens during the transition stage?

When you decide to enrol your child at an early years provision, you and your child will usually have 'transition visits'. Transition visits benefit everyone involved. They allow your child to explore and become familiar with their new surroundings, they allow the early years provider to start to get to know your child and they allow you the opportunity to see how your child will get on in their new setting and ask questions to make you feel more at ease.

There will be many questions you want to ask and it might be helpful to make a list before your visit. The following are some questions that may be useful when you visit:
  • What are the settling in procedures?
  • How will I know that my child will be safe and happy?
  • Who will look after my child and help him learn?
  • What will my child do during the session?
  • What activities will my child be involved in?
  • What will my child learn about?
  • How will I know what my child has been learning?
  • What do I need to bring for my child?
  • What will my child do during the session?
  • Can I stay with my child?
  • In what ways can I be involved?
  • Can my child come to nursery if he/she is not toilet trained?
  • How will the setting support my child when he/she is toilet training?
  • How much will it cost me?
You should feel comfortable to ask any questions that are on your mind.

What should I look out for during the transition visit?

During your visit to the setting, you should see and experience the following:
  • a learning environment where children are happy, motivated and engaged in play experiences, including outdoors
  • a leader who wants the best for all the children and is very proud of their achievements 
  • lots of discussion and engagement between children and adults
  • children who are curious, and inquisitive and adults support their interests
  • good quality materials and resources, including some unusual items that would not be found at home
  • confident, knowledgeable, approachable staff who are supportive to children and parents 
  • staff listening and talking with children, families and staff
  • the setting feels and looks safe and secure including a secure entry system
  • clear information displayed for parents including a handbook, transition procedures, links with the community and learning opportunities
  • children’s art, writing and photographs of activities are on display and everyone is proud of the these achievements.

Transitioning from a Nursery and/or Childminder to School

How will my child's school help to ensure that transitions go smoothly?

Primary teachers work closely with nurseries and childminder staff to ensure that information about your child's learning and achievements are passed on. Staff will also share other information that will help the teacher support your child's learning, for example friendship groups, preferred ways of working.

How can I help?

To help prepare your child for a good start you can:
  • listen and talk to your child about this change in their lives
  • involve your child in getting ready for school by helping choose the things they will need, for example their uniform, lunchbox, schoolbag
  • talk to your school if you have questions or concerns
  • support staff in getting to know your child, let them know about interests and health issues
  • keep in touch with the school about anything that may affect your child's learning
  • find out how the school will communicate with you.
You can find out more about transition to primary school on the Place2Be website. 

How can I find out more about my child's school?

Attend induction events or introductory sessions - they are designed to let you and your child meet teachers and become familiar with the school. If you cannot attend an event, contact the school and ask if you can go along at another time. Some of these may be online, over the telephone or information sent in the post.

Be prepared with a set of questions covering all the things you and your child want to know about.

Schools will have information to share with you or available on their website, including:
  • Contact details – including information on how the school communicates with its parents and how parents can communicate with the school
  • Information about opportunities for parents to become involved in the school and in their child's education
  • A statement of the school's culture, ethos and values
  • Information on curriculum, assessment and reporting
  • Arrangements for support for pupils
  • School's performance and achievements
  • Range of school policies and practical information

Should my child start school on a part-time timetable?

The transition should be planned to meet your child's individual needs, so for some children, this will required a slow and steady transition. However, children should be offered their full entitlement - it is unlawful for a school to prevent children attending because of their special education needs or disabilities. If you encounter this, you can contact Doncaster SENDIAS for advice. 

My child has been allocated Early Intervention Allowance (EIA) at their current setting, will this continue in their next setting or school?

The locality Area SENCO will work in partnership with you, your child’s current setting and the new setting or school to decide whether continuing Early Intervention Allowance would be beneficial for your child in their new setting/school. The new setting/school is able to apply for ‘Continuation of Early Intervention Allowance’ if appropriate. 

How will my child be supported to transition to their next setting or school?

Careful preparation and planning will be implemented to support children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities to ensure a smooth and robust transition to their new setting/school.

The locality Area SENCO in partnership with you, your child’s current setting, their new setting/school and any service partners such as Educational Psychology will arrange a transition meeting. This meeting will enable information sharing including current support and next steps thus ensuring that the new setting/school has everything in place to welcome your child, meet their needs and effectively promote their learning and development.

It helps children if parents:
  • Talk with them about what is going to happen
  • And/or use visual supports to sequence events, such as pictures of the school, playground, environment, staff and school uniform.
  • Encourage them to ask questions or share a social story
  • Encourage them to talk about any concerns they may have
  • Listen carefully to their concerns and consider sharing them with other relevant people
  • Help them to become familiar with the new school or setting, revisiting transition booklet.

My child has involvement of a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), what will happen when they transition into their future setting/school?

Speech and language services will continue to support your child in their future placement. It will be agreed with the Speech and Language Therapist whether their support will be a clinic appointment or within the child’s future placement, or in some circumstances both.

Will my child need support from an Educational Psychologist (EP)? Who are they and what do they do?

Educational Psychologists work with children, parents, schools, pre-school providers, other education settings and health and care agencies. They apply the principles of the SEND Code of Practice to help improve outcomes for children and young people and to enable them to achieve the best they can in life. They promote the inclusion of all children and young people in the life of their school and in the local community.

My child is not toilet trained; will my child be able to start school?

Yes, your child can attend school, the Equality Act 2010 states that schools must not discriminate against or disadvantage disabled children or those with special educational needs. A delay in achieving continence - or not being toilet trained - is considered a disability. 

Children with an additional need often need more support with learning to use a potty or toilet. Therefore, they may be still using nappies when they start school. It would be unlawful for a school to refuse entry for a child with a disability or medical condition which affects their bladder or bowel control. See the ERIC website for further information and advice.


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Last updated: 24 May 2024 09:40:47


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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