Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Fund

Childcare providers who have been rated 'good' or 'outstanding' by OFSTED, who are registered to offer and deliver funded places, can apply for SENIF funding where the following children have got low level and emerging needs:

  • Two year old funded
  • Free entitlement children
  • Extended entitlement children (30 hours)

A low level and emerging need is where you have identified that a child is struggling to meet their universal childhood development milestones at certain ages, as you would expect.


The funding can be used for special equipment such as sensory toys, adaptions, trainers or consultants and other resources. 

It can’t be used to pay someone’s salary, one-to-one support, children attending a reception class, or for any child who has got an active Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).

If there are high care needs that this fund does not cover, information about a further scheme will be available soon. 

You must get consent from the parent or carer to apply.


Funding bands

  • Band A: Up to £500 per child, per funding block. This is for 3 or more children attending the same group or session where the children require the same level of support and intervention. This could be a speech and language session or a specific learning session, etc
  • Band B: Up to £1,000 per child, per funding block. This is for individual children with low-level special educational needs who require a short-term intervention to support their progress along the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 
  • Band C: Up to £1,500 per child’s year. This funding is for individual children with low-level and emerging special educational needs who require an intervention to support their special educational needs to progress along the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

Specialist equipment 

Purchase equipment to support the child’s access to play and learning opportunities (e.g. wedges for children with physical needs).

Any requests must be recommended in writing by the appropriate health professional (usually an occupational therapist) and must include costs. Any purchased equipment must move with the child if they change their setting.

Adaptations to the environment

Small adaptations to the physical environment help the child's access (e.g. grab rails, ramps, etc).

Any requests must be recommended in writing by the appropriate health professional, usually an occupational therapist, and must include costs.

Adult support 

To buy in external expertise such as a trainer or consultant to support the child. 

Adult support is available to enable key people to carry out targeted activities. It is important to note that the funding is not intended to provide continuous one-to-one support for individual children, but to enable all children to have access to an appropriate curriculum (e.g. during small group times you may want to allocate one person to lead the group and a second person to support the children in accessing the group, the funding may support you in having enough staff to do this).

You can also use funding for specialist or one-off training (e.g. signing training course, understanding autism or Down Syndrome courses). 

Group funding 

This funding is available for small groups of three or more children with low-level or emerging needs. This funding can support children (e.g. a speech therapist to visit once a month) or used to access courses to train your staff, who can then deliver the specialist support needed.

WellComm toolkit

Childcare providers using the WellComm toolkit and the EasyPeasy app can apply for SENIF funding to fund any resources suggested as an outcome of the screening process. The current banding and funding limits apply for all applications.

You can't use funding:

  • for one-to-one staffing for individual children 
  • for targeted adult support
  • to subsidise funded places or to offset an existing deficit 
  • where insufficient explanation has been given as to how the funding would be used (e.g. request for funding for a small group but with no explanation as to what this would achieve or progress outcomes)
  • where inclusion is not the primary purpose of the application 
  • where funding is requested retrospectively
  • where the child is not in attendance at your setting or on your Headcount Return
  • for non-specialised resources that should be part of your general provision 
  • for activities that should form part of your universal provision

Supporting evidence

You will need to include a completed Early Years Portage Developmental profile (no older than 3 months) and any evidence of any other assessments you may have carried out (e.g. Observation Checkpoints from the EYFS, Speech and Language Monitoring Tool, Early Years Social Communication Difficulties or ASD Checklist, etc).

Examples of needs and supporting evidence

Examples of needs and criteria

Evidence examples

The persistence and intensity of a child’s difficulties has a significant impact on the child, peers, and practitioners within setting:

  • these difficulties could be demonstrated either as withdrawn, anxious or challenging behaviours which would indicate underlying emotional or social concerns, or communication difficulties
  • child requires daily targeted and planned intervention to develop aspects of their personal, social, and emotional development, such as making relationships, behaviour, self-control and self-care, communication for language and communication for thinking
  • safety of the child who is unaware of danger or self-harms, or who is a danger to other children
  • child may have a vision/hearing impairment or a diagnosed developmental condition which impacts on the development of social relationships, self- confidence and awareness.

Evidence from:

  • parents on entry to setting
  • previous setting
  • current observations
  • individual planning
  • planning review
  • risk assessment

Reports from:

  • paediatrician
  • speech and language therapist
  • Send Support service advisor
  • health visitor
  • Social Care services
  • Sensory Impairment service

Review request

Ensure there is a clear cycle of review involving child, parents, staff, and other professionals as appropriate

Evidence of planning, monitoring, assessment, and evaluation cycles to support and extend personal, social, and emotional aspects of development and learning


You can make up to 3 applications per child in their funding year. 

If the child is with two different childcare providers, we can only accept a maximum of 3 applications in total from both providers. Each provider will need to submit an application in full for the child.


Panel meeting date

Deadline for applications

9 April 2024

3 April 2024

6 May 2024

2 May 2024

7 June 2024

4 June 2024

4 July 2024

1 July 2024

6 August 2024

1 August 2024

Assessing your application

Each application will be checked and given to the assessment panel which will meet monthly. If the application misses the deadline for submissions, this will be carried over to the following month.

If we’re missing any information, we will ask for this before it can go to the assessment panel.

We will let you know of the application outcome within 5 working days of the decision.


Payments are made at the same time we pay your normal funding.

Declined applications 

If you have any queries regarding the outcome, you can email [email protected].


We will monitor the use funding during each Funding Block and this will consist of an advisory visit (virtual or face to face) from an Early Years Advisor or Send Support Service Advisor (SSS Advisor), where the child’s progress and continuation of funding will be discussed.


If resources are being requested for the first time, please ensure that you have had a discussion and agreement with a professional (e.g. Early Years advisors, SEND Support Service (SSS), occupational therapists, educational psychologists, physiotherapists, etc)

Resources that you can purchase

Area of need

Sensory Toy Warehouse provides a range of different sensory toys and ideas (e.g. ear defenders, chew toys, fidget toys, wobble cushions)

  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Behaviour
  • Attention
  • Developmental delay
  • Physical needs
  • Hearing impaired
  • Visually impaired

Sensory Direct provides a selection of different sensory toys

  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Behaviour
  • Attention
  • Developmental delay
  • Physical needs
  • Hearing impaired
  • Visually impaired

Sense Toys provides a selection of different resources and sensory toys

  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Behaviour
  • Attention
  • Developmental delay
  • Physical needs
  • Hearing impaired
  • Visually impaired

Amazon has a range of different toys and resources (e.g. keyring with signs, timers)

  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Behaviour
  • Attention
  • Developmental delay
  • Physical needs
  • Hearing impaired
  • Visually impaired

Sensory education has a variety of different resources and toys

  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Behaviour
  • Attention
  • Developmental delay
  • Physical needs
  • Hearing impaired
  • Visually impaired

Last updated 08 July 2024