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 three teams who help in their respective ways:

  • Portage team – working with children from birth until they are 3 years old
  • Early Years SEND Inclusion 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

Our Portage practitioners support our youngest children from birth to 3 years at home and/or in a setting. Portage home visitors build strong relationships with parents/carers and they give practical help and advice to help you to support your child. Family events are run throughout the year 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.

Leicestershire’s Portage service is accredited by the National Portage Association (NPA).

When your child is 3 years old

Your child may be transferred to the Early Years SEND Inclusion team if they continue to need support from the team.

Early Years SEND Inclusion team

Specialist advisors and practitioners may visit your child 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 3 years until they start school.

Your Early Years SEND Inclusion advisor or practitioner can:

  • 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 development in all areas of learning
  • contribute to an assessment
  • tell you about other help you can get for your child

Early Years Communication and Interaction advisors and practitioners

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 they start school. They may work at home or in settings or both. They 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. Your child will have a period of active involvement, during which they will be observed and assessed. Your child will then be placed on monitoring for a period of up to 6 months to allow yourselves and nursery time to embed the strategies and guidance given.

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 inclusion 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.

Following allocation at panel, an Advisor will contact parents and carers to talk about what the team has to offer. At this first contact it will be decided how often and where the visits will take place. Contacts may be at home or setting and may be a mix of virtual and face to face.

Before you begin the referral form

You cannot save progress, so to avoid being timed out please have the following information ready:

  • Child’s information, including date of birth and parental details including address, telephone number, email address
  • Setting details
  • Names and contact details of any other services who have/had involvement with the child
  • Details of the Early Years Provider
  • Information on the areas of need and electronic copies of any documents you wish to submit to support the referral
  • Electronic copies of any assessments (small steps etc.)
  • Parental permission to complete the referral

Make an Early Years referral online

When you've submitted the information, a PDF version of the referral can also be downloaded for your own records.

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.

Leaflets for parents

A parent and carer's guides to: