Disability Access Funding

Guidance for early years providers, parents and carers.

What is the Disability Access Fund (DAF)?

The Disability Access Fund is a one off payment of £615 per academic year for each child that is eligible. It is additional funding for providers to support 3 and 4 year old children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to access their funded early education entitlement. It supports providers to anticipate and make reasonable adjustments to their provision for children with SEND.

Eligibility

3 and 4 year old children will be eligible if:

  • the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • the child receives the universal early education entitlement in a school nursery class, private day nursery, preschool playgroup, independent school or childminder who is part of the scheme.

Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education that they are entitled to in order to receive the DAF. Children will be eligible where they take up any period of free entitlement and receive DLA.

4 year olds in reception classes are not eligible for DAF funding.

Only one provider can claim DAF per child per financial year. If the child moves to another provider before the end of the financial year the money cannot be moved. It is not transferable and it does not follow the child. If a child attends more than one provider for their universal hours, the payment cannot be divided between two providers. The parent can nominate their preferred provider. It would usually be recommended that the funding is given to the child’s main provider, where the child accesses most of their universal funded hours.

Legal responsibilities

All early years providers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that children with SEND are able to access provision under the Equality Act 2010.

It states that early years providers:

"Must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to ensure that disabled children and young people are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers.

"This duty is anticipatory – it requires thought to be given in advance to what disabled children and young people might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent disadvantage."

SEND Code of Practice 2015

When we consider equal access and reasonable adjustments in the context of an early years setting, we mean that all children should be able to enter the provision or areas where early education will take place and that all children will be given the opportunity to engage with the Early Years Foundations Stage. This involves taking positive action in relation to procedures, criteria and practices. Reasonable adjustments include adjustments to the learning environment, provision, physical features and admissions processes. This is to make sure that all children are able to enjoy the services that you offer.

If you would like to find out more about your duties under the Equality Act 2010, the Council for Disabled Children, have produced a booklet specific to early years settings that you might find useful:

Disabled Children and Equality Act for Early Years

How to access DAF funding

The early years provider is ultimately responsible for identifying with parents if their child is eligible. This should be conducted in a sensitive way. You may have already considered how you can make parents aware of the DAF, for example through your website, newsletters or admission process.

For a child to be eligible for the funding they must be in receipt of DLA. You should check with parents/carers to confirm if a child is in receipt of DLA and request a copy of the award letter as evidence so you can claim this funding. You will need to keep a copy of the evidence for your records.

If a family is unaware if they are eligible for DLA they can speak to Trafford Early Development Service (TEDS), SEN Advisory Service (SENAS) or Trafford Sensory Impairment Support Service (Teacher of the Deaf and/or Qualified Teacher of Vision Impairment) for advice if their child is known to one of these services. Alternatively Contact.org.uk offer advice for families of children with additional needs, including advice about claiming DLA.

This following guide explains to providers how to check and record if a child is entitled to Disability Access Funding using Trafford’s Early Years Portal:

Early Years Portal - User Guide: EYPP and DAF checks

If you have any queries please email the Early Education Team and they will make sure an appropriate person is assigned to support you: early.education@trafford.gov.uk

How can the funding be used to support children with SEND?

DAF funding can be used in a number of ways, however, it is the responsibility of the early years provider to identify what adjustments might be required to support a child to attend the setting. It is important to stress that the funding cannot be used to provide 1:1 support for a child. If you feel that a child needs support beyond that which DAF can provide, then you may consider completing an application for funding to the Early Years SEND Panel. It would be advised that this is done in consultation with parents and other professionals or services involved with the child.

If you would like more information about this, here is the link to the Trafford Early Years SEND Funding page.

It is also strongly advised that you consult with parents and other professionals involved with the child before using the DAF funding. This is to make sure that you have been advised of the best way to support the child and of the appropriate resources available. This could be the Area SENCO, Trafford Early Development Service, SEN Advisory Service or Trafford Sensory Impairment Support Service, Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy. Ultimately providers should use their own judgment, knowledge and experience of the child and setting when making decisions around spending the DAF funding.

Providers who have more than one child attending the setting who are entitled to DAF funding can pool the money and use it in a way that supports adjustment or resources that will benefit more than one child. Items purchased remain the property of the provider and can be used to support current or future children attending the setting. However, if you think resources purchased would be of particular benefit to the child and a new provider, you can decide to transfer non static items to a new provider with a child. Resources can also be shared with parents to use at home if you think this will be beneficial for the child. You are expected to spend the full amount of the money on the child or children. If resources exceed the £615 allocated, the setting would be expected to fund the gap.

Examples of how DAF funding could be used

  • To access ‘Allergy and anaphylactic shock’ training for a child who has very severe allergies.
  • A childminder could pay themselves an extra hour a day to clean and sterilise medical equipment and to make up medication for the next day.
  • To purchase an adapted pram that is suitable for a child’s specific needs.
  • To access ‘Signalong’ training and resources
  • To purchase weighted jackets and blankets for a child with sensory needs
  • To have a lower hand rail or additional rail fitted on a stairway to support independent access

Keeping evidence of how DAF funding has been used

Providers must keep evidence of how the funding has been used, this includes keeping receipts for resources purchased or training the setting have accessed. It is good practice to record, evidence and evaluate how you have used the funding. A sample template can be found below, which will help you to evidence the rationale behind how you have chosen to use the DAF funding. The template provides a written account that staff can share with Ofsted. Ofsted will evaluate the impact of the funding and how it has been used during the inspection process.

"Inspectors will evaluate the impact of additional funding and any additional support and/or arrangements for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)."

Early Years Inspection Handbook 2019

Further information