Families with disabled children often find it difficult to access childcare. There are many reasons for this: you may not be able to find a childcare provider to suit your child's specific needs, many childcare settings are not inclusive and many don't offer childcare at times that are suitable.
There are laws around childcare that local authorities and childcare providers must follow. The main law in England is the Childcare Act 2006. If you are refused childcare you can use this and other laws to help you change the decision.
Template letters for challenging childcare decisions
We have put together three template letters based on the most common barriers to accessing childcare for disabled children and what can or can't be done to overcome them.
Challenging a childcare provider's failure to make reasonable adjustments
Under the Equality Act 2010 all childcare providers must make reasonable adjustments to the way they provide a service. This is to make sure all children are able access their activities and facilities.
Use template letter one [docx] if you think a childcare provider has failed to do this. Send it to a senior manager working at the provider or to head office if it is part of a larger organisation (e.g. a chain of nurseries).
Requesting 'top up' funding from a local authority when there is no legal duty on the childcare provider to make a resonable adjustment
You might have asked your childcare provider to make reasonable adjustments and been given valid reasons why this is not feasible because of the costs involved.
In this circumstance, send template letter two [docx] to the local authority to ask for 'top up' funding to support the necessary adjustments. We suggest you first check with the provider that they are happy to receive this funding. For more information see page 10 of our free childcare guide, below.
Challenging a local authority's failure to make sure there is enough childcare provision in its area.
This letter is designed to help challenge a local authority that is failing to make sure there is enough childcare available in the local area. Although the letter is primarily to challenge a lack of free childcare for children aged two to four in England, it can easily be adapted to highlight the lack of childcare for older children.
Template letter three [docx] is mainly intended to be a campaign tool for local groups, but individual parents can also send it. For more information see page 10 of our free childcare guide, below.
Free parent guide on your rights to childcare for disabled children
With the help of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Steve Broach, barrister at Monckton Chambers, we have put together a guide to help you understand your rights to childcare for disabled children [PDF].
This guide is aimed primarily at parents who are finding it difficult to access free childcare for a disabled child aged two to four in England, but it should also be helpful for parents struggling to access suitable childcare for older disabled children.