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Early Years and Childcare Q&As

On this page, you can find answers to your questions regarding early years and childcare for special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

All the questions have been submitted by local parents and answered by Local Authority staff. Click on a question to read the response.  

How can I help my child at home?

Services to help with parenting skills and ensuring your child has the support they need at home are offered by the local authority’s Short Breaks team. Some of the things they might be able to help with include:

  • Parenting Interventions/workshops/group work
  • Occupational therapy - Assessments, aids and equipment to help children live more independently and advice on alterations required in the home.
  • Short term breaks - Care for a disabled child at home or in a different setting to give parents a break.
  • Funded play provision/ activities for children/ young people - Information and advice to help you access local and specialist play services.
  • Direct Payments - Money given to parents/ carers or disabled young people aged 16+ to purchase the services they want themselves.


For more information on provision available through the Short Breaks team, you can visit their section on the Local Offer.

If you have a very young child (aged 0-3 years) who has additional needs or a recognised disability, you may be eligible for the Portage Home Learning Service. This would involve a trained practitioner visiting you at home once a week to work with you on building your child's existing abilities and help with their development. You can find out more about the portage service by clicking here.

If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you can learn about strategies to support your child at home by taking part in training provided by the Autism and Early Intervention Team. This includes:

  • EarlyBird and Cygnet training
  • Individual training – 2 sessions per term focusing on topics selected by parents

These courses provide knowledge and understanding of the condition and the opportunities to link with other parents of children with autism.

How can I find suitable childcare?

For details on all Ofsted registered childcare such as Day Nurseries, Pre-school Playgroups, Childminders, Before and After School Care and Holiday Play Schemes in the borough and information on help to pay for childcare, please visit the Local Offer’s Early Years and Childcare directory.

If your child has a special need and/or a disability (SEND), you can find information to help you choose suitable childcare by visiting this page on the Local Offer.

If you require any further advice or assistance in finding suitable childcare for your 0-14-year-old (or up to 19 if your child has a disability) please contact the Family Information Service by emailing or calling 0207 361 3320.

What do I do if I need to arrange emergency childcare?

The allocation procedure for emergency childcare places depends on the individual circumstances of the child and their family. Families requiring emergency childcare should contact the Family Information Service, by emailing or calling 0207 361 3320, to find out about the availability of local providers able to offer an emergency place.

A national emergency childcare scheme, to which many employers belong, is also available for a fee. This allows families to search across potential emergency places available locally.

If parents are looking for emergency places due to the closure of a local childcare provider (e.g. nursery), the Local Authority will use its knowledge of available childcare providers to mediate.

Last Updated 18/10/2019

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