Children who have disabilities and their families are entitled to good quality, affordable, flexible childcare, just like any other child or family. Childcare offers opportunities for children to play, socialise and learn with other children and can provide parents with a much needed break from their caring responsibilities.
There are many ways you can get help to pay for childcare, including working tax credits, childcare vouchers and direct payments. Find out more on our help with the cost of childcare section.
All childcare providers are expected under the Disability Discrimination Act 1985 to make 'reasonable adjustments' to meet the needs of disabled children. This might include installing a ramp to allow wheelchair access to the premises, setting up special meal arrangement to cater for children with allergies or training staff to use special equipment. Providers are not allowed to treat a child any less favourably because of their disability and they can not charge more for a disabled child.
Childcare providers must also take the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice into account, which requires them to meet the needs of children with special educational needs. All day nurseries and playgroups will have a nominated Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) on their staff who you will be able to speak with to discuss any special requirements your child might have. SENCos are supported to do their role by Inclusion Advisers who are employed by Playgroup Network and by Area SENCOs who are part of SENTASS Young Children Team. They support staff in identifying needs and ways that they can access additional support. They help staff to complete appropriate paper work to ensure that your child's needs are fully met.
Childminders are able to offer parents of disabled children many benefits including flexibility and a highly individualised service. Your child will be able to mix with other children in a smaller, family or home. Childminders who are part of childminding networks get extra support and training and work to standards that are higher than basic registration standards. For more information on childminders, see the registered childminders page or or search for childminders on the Newcastle Support Directory
You should always discuss your child's needs with a childminder before entering a contract. It might be useful to draw up a plan for the childminder that includes information on your child's medicines, special dietary requirements, allergies, sleeping times and so on. If your childminder needs specialist training and equipment, then Newcastle City Council may be able to offer support. Please phone the Admissions and Information Service: 0191 277 4133 for more information.
Admissions and Information Service
Phone: 0191 277 4133 (with 24 hour answerphone)