Free early education and special educational needs

Some children have special educational needs in relation to learning, physical disabilities or medical needs, which mean they may need additional support. For most children their provider will meet their needs as most early years providers make reasonable adjustments for children with additional needs.

Early years providers are also able to access central support services who can provide advice and assistance, for example, the educational psychology team or SEND Support Service.

A small number of children may require more specialist support. If your child has special educational needs and/or disabilities and requires additional support to enable them to access their early learning please let your preferred provider know when you apply for a free early education place.

You can also contact SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice Support Service) for confidential information, advice and support on (01254) 583957.

The service offers impartial information, guidance and support to parents of children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. The service aims to provide pupils, young adults, parents and carers, schools and other professionals with the opportunity of working together to meet the special educational needs and/or disabilities of the individual pupil.

Blackburn with Darwen‘s Local Offer is an online resource that details services, support and guidance available to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0 – 25 and their families.

Disability Links

Disability Links is a voluntary service that provides information about local groups and activities to support the needs of those with SEND, aged between 0 and 25 years and their families/carers.

For further information or to be kept updated on services, you can request to be placed on the Disability Link register

Before registering your interest, you will need a MyBwD account. Watch a tutorial on how to create an account if you do not have one.

If you would like your child to be removed from the disability links register please email with the email address your account is registered with.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is available funding for early years providers to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. It aids access to early year’s places by supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings.


Your child may qualify if they get child disability living allowance (DLA) and access their early education place at a registered Ofsted years provider.

4-year olds in primary and infant school reception classes are NOT eligible for Disability Access Funding (DAF).

For children who attend more than one provider, parents need to be aware that only one payment can be made and they must nominate which provider that should be.

Visit Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children: Overview - GOV.UK ( for more information.

SEN Inclusion Fund

The SEN Inclusion Fund is to support local authorities to work with providers to address the needs of individual children with SEN.

Support is led and managed directly by the child’s early year’s provider with additional financial support paid directly to the early years provider for the provision of additional resources, for example, staffing, staff training, equipment.


Your child may qualify if they meet all the following criteria:

  • they have some level of special educational needs or disabilities
  • they are aged 3 or over and are working well below their age related expectations in two or more of the prime areas of learning, for example, range 2 to 3 in the Non Statutory Birth to 5 Matters Guidance or Steps 7 to 8 on the Early Support Development Journal

If you feel that your child meets the criteria for this funding speak to your childcare provider.