The Department for Education (DfE) introduced Disability Access Fund (DAF) in 2017 for providers of early years education. Providers will be entitled to claim DAF for any child who is 3 or 4 years old, (not 2 years or in reception class) in free early years education, who is also in receipt of child Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
From April 2022, a setting is entitled to receive £800 per year as a one-off payment. Early Years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children and are encouraged to speak to parents in order to find out which children are in receipt of child disability living allowance which will trigger DAF for the setting. The local authority is responsible for allocating the DAF funding. Derbyshire’s pathway is as follows:
The parent declaration form (FE1) includes a tick box for parents to indicate if their child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. If a child attends more than one setting, the DAF can only be paid to one provider, which the parent should nominate as the main provider. The setting should satisfy themselves that the child is in receipt of DLA and should keep a copy (paper or electronic) of the evidence available for audit. The payment is allocated to the provider, so applications can also be made for children living out of county attending a Derbyshire provider.
The Early Years census in schools, academies and other early years settings will include a field to indicate if a child is in receipt of disability allowance. Identifying a child on the census will automatically trigger a payment to that setting when the data has been finalised (provided no payment has previously been made in the financial year for that child).
The government has not laid out criteria or monitoring procedures for DAF funding. However, Derbyshire local authority recommends that consideration be given to the following when the setting is in receipt of DAF:
- Training: DAF funding can be used for any medical training the setting may need to support the child’s inclusion in the early years setting. Other bespoke training from the LA (for example, Down’s syndrome, Makaton) might also be accessed using DAF.
- Resources: DAF funding can be used for resources that may support the child’s learning outcomes and developmental progress. A note of caution, please collaborate with specialist support services when considering purchase of equipment. Also remember the funding is allocated to the setting, so when the child moves on, the equipment stays with the nursery; there is no requirement to pass it on.
- Staffing: DAF funding can be used to provide additional staffing support for the child. Early Years SEN Inclusion Funding (EYIF) is the primary source for this area, but DAF might be used for top-up or times of the day EYIF does not cover, or to fund staffing cover so key staff can attend multi-professional meetings about the child.