If your child is not in an early years setting and you are worried about your child's development, the best person to speak to is your Health Visitor. Your GP will also be able to help. They can decide whether a child needs to be referred for assessment.
- For young children under five, some of Camden’s children’s centres specialist drop-ins. Find out more here.
- Support is also available through programmes such as ‘Positive Parenting’. If your child is under five and has a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder ‘Earlybird’ is offered, which helps you support your child's social communication and appropriate behaviour.
- Camden's Integrated Early Year's service works with early years settings and childminders to support them to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage for children from birth to five.
- Childminders can ask for general support from the Early Years Team and specialist advice, if they are looking after a child with a disability.
- The Early Years Intervention Team supports staff in early years settings to use the Early Years Foundation Stage, to assess any children they are concerned about. The Inclusion Teachers in this team are also ‘Area special educational needs and disability co-ordinators’. When a child is referred to the team their needs are assessed and support is put in place if needed.
- The MOSAIC Child Development Team assesses babies and young children who have more complex needs. The services provides Early Support until the child moves to school. For children with high and complex levels of need, the Early Years Intervention Team and family support workers work with MOSAIC, or with community health professionals working in early years settings.
- Help and support is offered early on from the point of referral whatever the child’s age is. The service supports families to care for their disabled children and for their children to remain living at home and as part of their local community wherever possible. The service offers the Early Support model, a keyworker system as well as a home based learning programme for children under five. The EarlyBird programme is offered to parents of children under five year newly diagnosed with Autism. Other services are the MOSAIC sleep service and MOSAIC feeding clinic.
Not all children under 5 will need an EHC plan. Some children will have a multi-agency plan with the additional support that child needs in place.
Many children with life-long medical conditions and disabilities are identified by health services, who are required by law to let the local authority know. This usually happens before children start school.
What happens if my child's needs cannot be met in an early years setting or mainstream school nursery?
If early years practitioners or teachers believe your child's needs cannot be met in mainstream education without more help than the school or setting can provide, or if your child’s needs are complex and require specialist provision, they will ask for a specialist assessment to see how best your child can be supported.
Where the assessment indicates that your child’s needs are severe, complex and long-term and unable to be met within the schools or setting resources, we will discuss an Education, Health and Care needs assessment with you.
Before starting an assessment, we will ask the nursery to tell us about all the ways they have supported your child so far. Unless the child or young persons' needs have come about suddenly, for example because of an accident or illness, they will need to tell us what they have done to meet the child/young person’s needs and what difference this support has made.
Once children start school, it is the classroom teacher, supported by special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator (SENDCo) and taking advice from other professionals, who work with you to identify children who have special educational needs and disability. The school will carry out assessments when they notice that your child is not making good progress, and plan interventions. You will be asked to work with the school to plan support and attend reviews to see what difference those interventions have made. This is the ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle.
You and the school can agree what assessments should take place and have the support of any professionals already involved with your child before requesting an EHC needs assessment: you may decide it is not appropriate after all because the right level of support can be put in place without an EHC plan.
Children who have exceptional levels of need may start school with an EHC plan already agreed, or may go on to have an EHC needs assessment at school.
You have the legal right to ask for an EHC needs assessment, for example if you think your child needs more support than the school or setting is able to provide. It is best to discuss this first with your child's school as you may not be aware of all support that can be made from Camden’s Local Offer without needing an EHC plan.
If a request of an EHC needs assessment is made, the school or setting and you will need to work together to collate evidence to show how your child’s needs have been assessed, what support has been put in place, what progress they are making and what difference that support has made.
‘In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs and disabilities of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress’ - SEND Code of Practice – 9.14