Childcare setting for disabled children

It may feel like the kids have only just gone back to school but half-term is fast approaching and for most parents, that means a mad panic trying to get organised. Finding a good work/life balance can be tricky at the best of times, but when parents just can’t make it work because of a lack of childcare, then what?

A 2014 Parliamentary Inquiry into childcare for disabled children, revealed that 92% of parents found childcare for disabled children was more difficult to access compared to non-disabled children. When you look at research from Contact a Family that only 16% of mothers with disabled children work, compared to 61% of mothers with non-disabled children, it’s clear that accessing services when you have a disabled child is not straightforward.

It is not just about finding a club, group or play scheme in your local area – they then need to be able to offer the support that your child needs; a safe environment that is not over- or under-stimulating; appropriate activities that are suitable for your child’s interests and understanding; an accessible environment that has the facilities your child requires; with staff you can trust.  It’s no easy undertaking.

Top tips for finding childcare

  • Start looking early. This means less stress, fewer rushed decisions and ensuring you feel completely comfortable with all your choices.
  • Look at your local authority’s Local Offer – this is a list of all organisations and services that are available in your area.
  • Contact them. Even if they appear to only accommodate for one type of disability/age. Also, if they cannot support your child, it is very likely they will know someone who can.
  • Talk to other parents. They will be able to give you recommendations, local knowledge and advice.
  • Find your local Family Information Service. When you contact them, explain that your child has a disability or special educational need. They should then support you or refer you to the area Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). The SENCO can advise you about any specialist childcare services or additional funding you may be entitled to.
  • Consider the type of childcare you really want. Would it be better for your child to be cared for at home, in a group setting or in another person’s home?
  • If home-based childcare is the one which could fit with you and your family best, have a look for registered childminders. It’s a pricier option, but it allows you to match your child’s needs with the skills of a qualified nanny or childminder. SNAP Childcare is one of the more well know agencies out there specialising in childcare for children with additional needs.


Dedicated childcare does exist, but it’s localised
Sense has recently launched a play scheme service, which is available to all children with disabilities, not just sensory impairments, based at their recently refurbished family centre in Barnet. The centre is purpose-built, completely accessible and has a homely feel making it a great solution for families in the local area during the holidays. Sense’s Short Breaks Service, based in Barnet, is offered to children from Enfield and other local boroughs. They can support up to 15 children and young people per day, aged between eight and 18 with a range of disabilities. Children are offered one- to-one support to enable them to get the most out of their time and are offered different activities according to their ages and interests. The facilities include a multi-sensory room, interactive touchscreen PC, accessible kitchen, activity room and many other resources and toys, surround sound and an outdoor play space. They also work with Touchbase South East, to access its hydro pool, music room and rebound trampolining.


Finding the right childcare for your child can feel like an uphill struggle but it’s one that is worth it in the end if you find something that works for the whole family. If it enables you to go to work when you want to, the whole family can benefit from greater independence, new experiences and a sense of freedom.

Do you know of a good holiday club or accessible childcare facility? Let us know more at or @WeAreMFON on Twitter or Facebook.

Where’s the childcare?

Don’t forget our Directory lists organisations that may be able to support you. Just look in the childcare section.

Useful links 

Contact a Family
A charity for families with disabled children, providing information, advice and support.

Council for Disabled Children
From policy to practice, CDC offer information and guidance on all aspects of life with a disabled child, including resources on finding and funding childcare.

The Family and Childcare Trust
Provide information and advice on childcare, including what financial help is available to families.

SEN Direct
A website which includes online directories of different services available as well as information and guidance about the services.

Supporting people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs with information and services, including short breaks.