Questions to ask childcare settings if your child has additional learning needs or a disability

Before you choose a childcare setting, it is important that you ask the setting some questions.

As a parent or carer of a child with additional support needs, it is totally understandable that you may have more things to consider. You need to be fully confident that they can meet your child’s needs. You will understand what support your child needs, and the strategies used to help look after your child.

You may want to ask some more questions, such as:

  • Is the outdoor space accessible? Is it free flow? Is it safe and secure?
  • Do they have any quiet or sensory areas?
  • Are there particular days or times when the setting is quieter or less busy?
  • Are children divided into groups by age or ability?
  • What adaptations would they need to make for your child to feel included?
  • What experience do they have of working with children who have Additional Learning Needs (ALN) or are disabled?
  • Who is their named ALN Coordinator (ALNCo)? What experience and training do they have?
  • Are they familiar with universal strategies, such as visuals? For example, Traffic Lights, Objects of Reference, and Now and Next.
  • What relevant training do they have? For example, Makaton, Sensory Processing, and Attention Autism.
  • Would they need more training to meet the needs of your child?
  • What support do they offer children with disabilities and ALN?
  • How would they make sure your child has the same play and learning opportunities as other children?
  • How would they approach your child’s disability with other children, parents, or carers if they have questions?
  • How will they communicate with you about your child’s progress and needs?
  • How do they comfort children who are upset?
  • Can you meet other staff, and do they interact with your child?
  • Are they comfortable around your child’s disability?

Many of the setting and practitioner questions will still apply, however you may need to ask:

  • Is the environment accessible safe and secure? For example, secure doors and windows, no access to roads, and enclosed outdoor area.
  • Does the childminder have any ALN experience? They may need additional resources, equipment, and designated quiet or sensory areas.
  • Are personal resources and storage spaces inaccessible? For example, outdoor sheds and garages.
  • Is the setting prepared to engage with ALN professionals? For example, allow specialists to see the child in the setting (or home for a childminder) and attend Personal Care Plan meetings.

Assisted Places Scheme

If you are a working parent of a school aged child with additional support needs who could not safely attend a childcare setting without extra help, funding may be available to provide:

  • training,
  • equipment, or
  • extra staffing.

You would still have to pay the childcare fee, but there would be no extra costs. If this might apply to your child, please speak to your childcare provider. They can make a referral to the Specialist Teacher who manages the Assisted Places Scheme.