The DfE will require all local authorities to set up a local SEN inclusion fund from April 2017.
The DfE has recognised that the current early years funding system ‘does not serve the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities consistently’.
The two key proposals from the DfE are for the Disability Access Fund (DAF) and the local SEN Inclusion fund.
“This will entail pooling funding from their early years and/or high needs funding blocks to spend on support for children with “lower level or emerging” SEN. The DfE expects local authorities to use this funding to top up provider funding on a case-by-case basis.” (www.pre-school.co.uk EY guide)
The funding is intended to make it easier for providers to access funding for children with SEND.
In February 2017 the Council for Disabled Children reported: “A research report to the DfE in 2015 highlighted an early years inclusion fund that had been established in York. York evaluated their fund and showed that young children were being identified earlier, being referred for earlier assessment and advice; children were more likely to stay in their own local early years setting; careful tracking of progress showed improvements in progress and better outcomes for children; and more comprehensive information smoothed transition into school. Support services played an important part in recommending interventions and identifying approaches to maximise children’s learning and development. The DfE SEN inclusion fund appears to be modelled on the York approach.
Local authorities will be required to consult widely, and to publish a range of information about the SEN inclusion fund in their local offer.