Nurseries and Childcare

Good quality childcare and early education is not only good for children; it gives parents more freedom to work, study or train for a job too. But juggling work with bringing up children is not easy.

Choosing childcare and early education is a big step for you and your child. There are lots of differences between types of childcare and early education services and also between individual childminders, nurseries, nursery classes or out-of-school clubs.

Try and give yourself enough time to visit several possible options in your area to get a good idea of what could suit your child. It can be a good idea to take your child with you to see how staff interact with him or her.

All early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors that a local authority funds, are required to have regard to the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.

Early years providers must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. The benefits of early identification are widely recognised – identifying need at the earliest point, and then making effective provision, improves long-term outcomes for children.

St Helens Council provides nursery education in many parts of the borough through maintained nurseries. They normally offer places for three and four-year-olds, and some also offer two-year-old places. Admissions to maintained nurseries are coordinated by the local authority. You can find out more information on how to apply for a place on the council's school admissions page.

Maintained nursery opening times tend to coincide with the school opening times - 9am to 3pm on weekdays. Maintained nurseries normally offer the 15 hours of free early education over five days per week (either mornings or afternoons). Some maintained nurseries also offer wrap-around provision to provide care all day for a fee.

Maintained Nursery Local Offers

St Helens has one standalone nursery unit:

Below is a list of St Helens primary schools with a nursery unit. Their Local Offer will be part of the main school offer.

Day nurseries offer care for children between birth and school age on a full or part-time basis. Most day nurseries are open all year round, usually from 8am until 6pm.

You can find a full list of all local authority and private provision below.

What is DAF?

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) is funding for early years providers to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. It aids access to early year’s places by supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings.

Eligibility: 3- and 4-year old’s will be eligible for Disability Access Fund if they meet the following criteria:

· the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance (DLA) and.

· the child accesses the funded entitlement with an Ofsted registered, early years’ provider.

Note: 4-year-old children in primary school reception classes are NOT eligible for disability access funding.

Entitlement: Providers taking three- and four-year-old’s that are eligible for Disability Access Fund will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £858.92 per year. Disability Access Fund is not based on an hourly rate and is an additional entitlement.

Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to receive DA Fund.

Identifying eligible children and how to apply: Early years providers are encouraged to speak to parents to find out which children are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Parents of children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance are required to provide evidence to their childcare provider. Applications for Disability Access Funding need to be made via the provider portal when the settings are claiming the child's funding.

Parents who attend more than one provider need to be aware that only one payment can be made, and they must complete the parental agreement form for the provider that they wish to receive the funding.

How early years providers will receive DAF funding: The full payment will be processed at the next available payment date following submission of a copy of the child’s current DLA award letter.

Disability Access Funding will not be offset against any other funding which the local authority may ordinarily be providing for children eligible for Disability Access Funding.

If a child receiving Disability Access Funding moves from one provider to another, the new provider is not eligible to receive the Disability Access Funding for this child for the same

period already claimed by the previous provider. Disability Access Funding received by the original setting will not be reclaimed by the local authority.

For what can DAF funding be used?

DAF payments could be spent on equipment, resources or making reasonable adjustments to the setting, and providers are expected to use the full amount in relation to the eligible child. Full information is available on the DAF Guidance


The purpose of the Local Offer is to enable parents and young people to see more clearly what services are available for children with special educational needs and disabilities in their area, and how to access them.

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