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Information for parents

For parents of pre-school children with special educational needs or disabilities.

Early Years SEND Inclusion team

We provide a service to children, their families and early years providers when the child requires specialised long-term support, has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders access to activities or experiences available to children of the same age.

There are four teams who help in their respective ways:

  • Portage team – working with children from birth until they are 2 and a half years old
  • Early Years SEND Inclusion team – working with children from birth until they go to school
  • Early Years Communication and Interaction team – working with children from birth until they go to school
  • Early Years Inclusion Practitioners – supporting children in settings and foundation stage of school who are at risk of exclusion

Portage service

Portage is a home-based educational service for children from birth to 2 and a half years old. Portage home visitors build strong relationships with parents/carers and they give practical help and advice through home visits. Children and parents are also offered access to group sessions which are run in localities around the county. Each session has an educational focus and provides parents the opportunity to meet other families. Family events are run throughout the year (Christmas, Easter and summer) when families can come together.

Referrals to the service are considered at the Early Years Panel. Referrals can be made by parents, health professionals and setting SENCos.

Portage is offered to children who attend a pre-school provision for up to two days a week.

Children who attend for more sessions each week may be offered support from the Early Years SEND Inclusion team where there is a greater focus on work within the child’s early years setting. Children can also move to this team when they are 2 and a half years old.

Leicestershire’s Portage service is accredited by the National Portage Association (NPA). The NPA has rated Leicestershire’s Portage service as a 5-star service.

When your child is 2 and a half - 3 years old

Your child may be transferred to the Early Years SEND Inclusion team if they need help at home.

Early Years SEND Inclusion team

Specialist advisors and practitioners may visit your child and your family at home or at their nursery or both. They work with children who have a:

  • much greater difficulty in learning than most others of the same age
  • disability that stops them doing activities that most other children of the same age can do

They work with children from just after birth until they start school.

Your Early Years SEND Inclusion advisor or practitioner can:

  • teach your child in your home and show you how you can teach your child
  • use play to help your child learn by observing and imitating them – this is called modelling learning
  • give you and the nursery advice on how to improve your child’s learning, communication, personal and emotional skills
  • contribute to an assessment
  • tell you about other help you can get for your child

Early Years Communication and Interaction team

Specialist advisors and practitioners work with children with a diagnosis of autism, on the pathway of a diagnosis or with social communication and interaction needs, from birth until their first term in school. They may work at home or in settings or both. The Early Years Communication and Interaction team can:

  • Develop understanding around sensory processing and social communication
  • Model some strategies for parents and professionals
  • Give advice about environments and the role of the adult in the nursery
  • Contribute to an assessment

Early Years Inclusion Practitioners

The Inclusion Practitioners work with children at risk of exclusion, until they are statutory school age. This work is based in settings and schools and can take the form of advice, modelling, intensive support, supporting dual placements and/or supporting statutory assessments.

How often will the service see my child in their early learning setting?

We will discuss with you how best to support your child. This may include some visits to home and some to setting.

What does the team do for Early Years Settings?

Every validated private, voluntary or independent early years setting has an Area Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) who supports the setting to include children with special educational needs and disabilities. In exceptional cases top up funding may need to be applied for.

How do I access the Early Years SEND Inclusion team?

The team accepts referrals from parents or anyone working with a child who has parental consent for the referral. Children accepted by the team show significant delay in more than one area of development.  Referral is via the local authority’s Early Years SEND Inclusion Panel. There is a meeting every week during term time.

The team discuss every child referred and decide which service is best placed to meet the child’s needs.

A visit is then planned with parents and carers to talk about what the team has to offer. At this first visit it will be decided how often and where the visits will take place. Visits can be at home, at the child’s early years setting or a combination of both.

Early Years Referral Form

Will information about me and my child be shared with other services?

We will share information about your child with other appropriate services to enable us to support them. However, we will never pass information to another service without your knowledge and only after we receive a signature from a parent or guardian giving us permission to do so.

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