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Early Years

“Early Years” usually describes the first five years of a child’s life. There is universal provision, which is for everyone; targeted provision for children who have needs additional to and different from other children of the same age, then specialist support for children with complex needs.

Early years provision could be a nursery, childminder or preschool. Some take children from 2-5 and other take children from birth to 5.

Childcare provision usually refers to before and after school provision and holiday clubs and play schemes.

 Early Years – Hot Topics

  • What Early Years or Childcare provision is available for children with special needs or a disability?

    pinpoint devon logo You can search Pinpoint Devon for childcare or early years provision in your area. All funded early years and childcare provision in Devon is inclusive; this means that they must

    * make reasonable adjustments for disabled children

    * prevent discrimination and promote equality

    * support pupils with medical conditions.

    There are also  specialist early years and childcare providers in the county.

    These are maintained special schools with nursery places:

    Bidwell Brook School, Dartington
    For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

    Ellen Tinkham School, Exeter
    For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

    Mill Water School, Honiton
    For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

    Oaklands Park School, Dawlish
    For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

    Pathfield School, Barnstaple
    For children and young people aged 3 to 19 with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs

    There are two independent special schools with nursery places (these do not offer funded 2,3 and 4-year old places) in Devon. Please contact the schools for more information:

    Vranch House

    Hannah’s School

    • How do I choose the right childcare for a child with special needs or a disability?

      Knowing what to look for or to ask about when choosing childcare can be tricky. There are questions and tips to help you to make your choice.

      If you need help to find early years and childcare provision you can use the Brokerage Service you can call the service on 01392 383000 and ask for Pinpoint or emailing

      If you can’t find the childcare that you need you should tell us. Complete the Unable to Find Suitable Childcare form as we may be able to help you.

      Devon County Council must ensure that there are enough early years and childcare places for families so far as is reasonably practicable. A Childcare Sufficiency Assessment report is written each year providing information on provision within the county.

      • Can I get any help with the cost of childcare?

        The governments Childcare Choices website sets out the financial support that is available to help families with paying for childcare:

        • Tax Free Childcare is for 0-11-year olds or 16 if disabled: Working families can receive up to £4000 per child.
        • Tax Credits for Childcare is for 0-15-year olds or 16 if disabled: Working families can claim back up to 70% of childcare costs.

        Your provider can claim funding for the number of hours that your 3 or 4-year-old child attends – all you need to do is to provide the information they need to make the funding claim from Devon County Council.

        3 and 4-year-old funding

        All 3 and 4-year olds are entitled to 570 hours of funded provision a year. This is called the universal entitlement. Working families may be able to get 1140 hours. This is often called the Extended Entitlement or 30 hours.

        2-year-old funding

        Some 2-year olds can get 570 hours of funded provision from the start of the term after their second birthday up until when they start their 3-year-old funding at the start of the term following their third birthday.

        Most eligible parents will be sent a Golden Ticket. If your child receives Disability Living Allowance or has an Education, Health and Care Plan you will receive a Golden Ticket that you can take to your chosen provider to take up a place.

        golden ticket picture

        Extra Funding for Early Years Providers

        Early Years and Childcare providers can also access the following funding to support your child:

        • Disability Access Funding (3 and 4-year olds) is new funding for early years providers to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. It helps providers to make reasonable adjustments to their settings.
        • Early Years SEND Support Funding (funded time for 2,3 and 4-year olds) An Early Years setting can apply for funding to support inclusion work for targeted groups of children through specialist group work or additional staff training opportunities. Settings can also apply for funding to support individual children – they can apply with the Portage Service for children with complex needs.
        • Early Years Pupil Premium (3 and 4-year olds) provides extra money to the Early Years Provider for three and four-year-old children whose parents are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, or who have been adopted or are in care.
        • How can I get my child's needs identified and assessed?

          In the UK there are certain tests and examinations offered to your baby to look for some medical conditions. It is not possible to screen your newborn baby for every illness or disease. Your GP should talk to you about your family history and may offer additional screening or tests. There are routine tests offered to all pregnant women. If you have symptoms or problems which suggest pregnancy complications, various other examinations and tests may be advised.

          • Pregnancy screening aims to detect potential problems early so that you can get treatment or early diagnosis. Medical professionals will discuss pregnancy screening with you.
          • The newborn baby check is a physical examination of a child as soon as they are born. This is done by a doctor.
          • Newborn babies will also have their hearing checked – this could be done when the baby is born or very shortly afterwards.

          Your GP will be notified of the birth of your child. You need to make an appointment to visit the GP within 6-8 weeks of the birth. At this appointment, the GP will do a post-natal check which will focus on the individual needs of the mother and baby.

          Midwives work with a family before birth and through the early post-natal period, focusing on individual needs. Midwives will do a ‘bloodspot’ test, where they prick the baby’s heel to take a sample of blood. This is usually around 5 days after birth.

          Health Visitors are qualified nurses or midwives with specialist public health training. They are trained in child development and carry out screening and developmental reviews providing a child focused service. Health visitors can support you until your child turns 5 years old.

          Virgin Care provides Specialist Children’s Assessment Centres for children aged 0 – 5 years with significant developmental difficulties. The centres offer assessments in the most appropriate venue for the child and family.

          Hospitals provide community paediatric services. Paediatrics is the branch of medicine which focuses on the development of children and the diagnosis and treatment of childhood illness. You can use NHS Choices to find a service near you.

          South Devon children will be assessed at Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust’s John Parkes Unit Child Development Centre.

          Early years providers (childminders, nurseries and other settings) must carry out a progress check at age 2. This will assess your child’s progress and identify strengths and any areas of concern. They will discuss your child’s progress with you and you will get a written report. If a setting is concerned about your child’s progress, they will request permission from you to discuss this with the health visiting team and possibly consider an integrated review.

          • How can I check that my child is making progress?

            The Early Years and Foundation Stage Profile


            The Early Years and Foundation Stage Profile summarises and describes children’s attainment. The EYFS profile assessment happens in the final term of the year in which a child reaches age 5, and no later than 29 June in that term. It gives:

            • the child’s attainment in relation to the 17 early learning goals (ELGs)
            • a short narrative describing the child’s 3 characteristics of effective learning

            Practitioners’ assessments are mainly based on observing a child’s daily activities and events. Look for the learning which a child demonstrates spontaneously, independently and consistently in a range of contexts.


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            Page updated 31/07/18

Early Years – Universal Support

Services and support available to all children

Early Years – Targeted Support

Services and support for children with needs additional to and different from their peers

Early Years – Specialist Support

Individualised support for children with complex needs

Early Years – what can I do to help my child?

Ideas for you to support your child at home

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