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Early education and childcare

There are different options available if you're looking for childcare or early education for your child with SEND. You have the same choices and opportunities for your child as other parents, including:

  • childminders
  • day care
  • playgroups
  • pre-school
  • nursery (school or private)

We sometimes refer to these as 'early years settings' and the people who run them as 'early years providers'. Visit the Family Information Directory to search for your childcare options.


There are lots of choices for early education and each will offer something different, so you can choose what best suits your child and family situation. You can find available child minders in your area and vacancies in local nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools, by contacting Early Education and Childcare. They can also tell you about funding available for early education and help you to apply.

Funding includes:

  • Terrific Twos - 15 hours early education for some two year olds who meet the criteria
  • free entitlement - 15 hours early education and childcare for all three and four year olds
  • 30 hours funding - 30 hours free childcare for some three and four year olds who meet the criteria
  • Disability Access Fund - an annual payment of £615. This can only be issued if you are receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child and they are claiming their funded early education entitlement. Four year olds in reception classes are not eligible. If you're receiving DLA for your child, give a copy of your award letter to your setting and they will be able to claim the funding
  • Early Years Inclusion Fund - childminders, early years providers and school nurseries can apply for additional funding to support your child's individual needs. This funding is only available to three and four year olds who have a funded place, and do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Inclusion and achievement

All childminders and providers follow the early years foundation stage curriculum. It covers the learning and development of all children up to five years old, and promotes inclusion and achievement. Your child's progress will be tracked and staff will work with you to plan individual targets and learn more about your child.

All providers of early education or childcare must promote equal opportunities for children with SEND so that they make the best possible progress. They must not discriminate and must make reasonable adjustments to include children with SEND. For more information, view the SEND code of practice (PDF).

Help for my child in an educational setting

Your child should have access to quality teaching, stimulating play experiences and interaction with other children. Staff follow an 'Assess-Plan-Do-Review'. This means they think about how to best teach your child new skills, plan their teaching activities in advance and monitor your child's progress.

Your child may also benefit from:

  • SENCO - a special educational needs coordinator who can monitor and review your child's progress during their time at the setting and liaise with other professionals involved. All Enfield settings can ask for advice from the Area SENCO, a senior specialist teacher with skills and knowledge in a wide range of different special educational needs
  • an educational psychologist - referrals can be made to an educational psychologist with your permission
  • other professionals - settings can ask other professionals who already know your child to share knowledge and offer specialist advice. They can also make referrals to other services with your permission

Children with longer-term special educational needs or disabilities may need more specialist help. You can ask for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment which could lead to your child getting an EHC plan. Your school or setting can request this, or you can request it yourself. If we decide to carry out an assessment, we will work closely with you, your child and the professionals involved. For more information, see the code of practice (PDF).

If your child needs an assessment, they may be referred to the child development team. This includes services such as:

  • paediatrics
  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • psychology
  • dietetics
  • community nursing

Learning and development

If your child has significant learning and development needs, they may be referred to the following services.

The early intervention support service

The early intervention support service is part of the Joint Service for Disabled Children (JSDC). The service provides family support and early education to families of babies and children with special educational needs and disabilities who are not yet attending early education settings. The service has two teams, early support and pre-school support.

Early support keyworkers provide:

  • holistic family support, helping with coordinating multi-agency services and improving information, access and support for families of children with complex needs

The Pre-school Support team has experienced teachers and early years professionals who:

  • work in partnership with you to assess your child’s developmental progress, and support you to understand how to extend your child’s learning through play
  • provide intervention in your home, virtually, in one of their specialist early learning groups or a blend of these approaches
  • contribute to the statutory assessment process for Education, Health and Care Plans where required
  • offer advice on future education options and admission processes, support your child’s transition into a setting or school
  • work with other professionals and make any necessary referrals to other agencies

To meet referral criteria, children must be aged 0 to 3 and:

  • meet the criteria for access to JSDC services
  • have significant delay in three or more areas of their development, or a diagnosis which gives an indication of future significant delay
  • live in the London Borough of Enfield
  • are not claiming their entitlement of up to 15-hours free early education in any setting

Referrals to the service need to be made by a professional who knows your child, for example, your health visitor or speech and language therapist.

For more information, contact EISS on 020 8351 1318.

Family support

Children's centres offer opportunities for children under five and their parents to learn, develop and have fun. They provide free courses, workshops and drop-in sessions, which offer advice and support on family services.

Our children's centres are:

  • DeBohun Hub
  • Hazelbury Hub

If you need more specialist support, you could be referred to:

Emotional support

You can get advice on emotional support from your GP or health visitor. You can also self-refer to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for counselling.

Speaking with other parents who have children with similar needs may be helpful and supportive. View a list of local organisations or visit Contact.


If your child has autism, you may be able to access:

  • MAPS (Making a Positive Start) parent training course
  • Early-Bird parent training
  • Parent Support Advisers who can advise on particular challenges you may be having with your child, for example, with eating, sleeping or toilet training

For more information, visit our autism page.

Our Sensory Impairment team provides assessment, information and advice to families and children of all ages following a needs assessment. Training and equipment depend on the age of your child, however for very young children the service usually involves registration and signposting to supporting organisations.

You can find out more by visiting MyLife.

If your child is under five and has complex disabilities, health and learning needs, you may be entitled to support from a keyworker in the early intervention support service. The service is designed to support children and young people living in Enfield who require involvement from different agencies.

For help with transport, Transport for London offer information and assistance for people with sensory impairments.

Informed Families can help you to search for childminders, pre-schools and playgroups near to where you live. You may also be eligible for free childcare via the Terrific Twos if your child:

Visual impairment support

You can find advice and support about visual impairment from the organisations below:

Hearing impairment support

You can find advice and support about hearing impairment from the organisations below:

Sensory impairment support at school and college

For information on how children and young people with visual or hearing impairment can be supported to attend school and college, see our specialist support page.

If you have a child with SEND, choosing a school for them can feel like a big decision. View our transition into school information to find out more about schooling options, how to apply, and ways to get further advice.

The Enfield Advisory Service for Autism (EASA) supports autistic children and young people aged 0 to 25. They work with educational settings and parents to increase understanding of autism, and develop services and support.

For more information, see worries about your child's health and development.

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