Will the new early years funding system make a difference to disabled children?

Written by Council for Disabled ChildrenDate 11 Aug 2016

Thanks to major changes to early years funding systems announced today, childcare providers may find themselves in a better financial position.

Included in the changes set out by the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, is the proposed introduction of an early years national funding formula that will determine funding allocation between local authorities.

The new formula is based on three factors:

  1. A ‘universal base rate’ of funding for each child, with the aim that every local area is funded fairly for the core costs of delivering childcare
  2. A new additional needs factor. This will be calculated using measures such as deprivation and the number of children who receive Disability Living Allowance 
  3. The cost of providing childcare in different parts of the country

Other key proposals include:

  • A new targeted Disability Access Funding scheme – automatic funding to childcare providers for each child who attends in receipt of DLA. 
  • Requiring or encouraging local authorities to introduce an ‘inclusion fund’ into their local systems. This means taking funding from the early years and/ or high needs blocks to create as fund for strategically to support children with SEN in the early years in their area.

The Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) childcare campaign from 2014 found that there were several barriers for parents of disabled children to access childcare. The main findings were:

  • A quarter of parents said that the nursery or child-carer refused a place or excluded their child because of their disability or special education needs.
  • 30% did not think the childcare provider had adequately trained staff
  • 47% said their child needs, 1:1 care or other additional support which was not available or affordable

DfE’s consultation on the changes to early years funding seeks views on the proposals from professionals in education, early years settings, childcare and local authorities. It contains documents that set out the proposals including a table which shows each local authority’s indicative funding allocations, based on the proposed early years national funding formula.

This is an opportunity for the sector to share their experience and expertise to influence these proposals to ensure that they make a difference to the lives of disabled children and their families.

In response to the release of the consultation, Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of CDC said:

“Families with disabled children too often experience financial barriers to getting the childcare they need. It is therefore absolutely right that the government has made improving access to childcare for the families of disabled children a priority in their consultation on early years national funding formula. We welcome the intention to give equal access to childcare to all families and will be scrutinising the proposals to make sure that’s what they do.”

The consultation runs until 22nd September.