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Disability Access Fund: guidance for early years providers

Additional early years support for children with disabilities or Special Educational Needs (SEN)

The information on this page is intended for early years providers. 

You can find information for parents on our financial help for childcare pages.

From April 2017, the government introduced the Disability Access Fund (DAF) to support access to free entitlements for children with disabilities or Special Educational Needs (SEN). The purpose of the fund is to support early years providers to make initial reasonable adjustments and build the capacity of their setting to support disabled children.


3 and 4 year olds will be eligible for the DAF if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance
  • the child receives free early education

Please note: 4 year olds in primary school reception classes are not eligible for DAF funding.

Children become eligible for free early education at different points in the year, depending on when they turn 3:

  • If the child is born between 1 April to 31 August, they are eligible from 1 September (Autumn Term), following their third birthday
  • If the child is born between 1 September to 31 December, they are eligible from 1 January (Spring Term)following their third birthday
  • If the child is born between 1 January and 31 March, they are eligible from 1 April (Summer Term), following their third birthday


The settings of 3 and 4 year olds eligible for the DAF will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £615 per year. The DAF 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 in order to receive the DAF. Children in receipt of the DAF will be eligible where they take-up any period of free entitlement.

Children who are in receipt of DAF will be eligible in the setting they have chosen to take up their early education funding or, in the case of shared funding, the setting nominated by the parent.

Identifying eligible children and applying for funding

Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children. Providers are encouraged to speak to parents in order to find out who is eligible for the DAF.

Parents will need to complete a DAF declaration form and provide a copy of the letter confirming the child's entitlement to disability living allowance to the nominated childcare provider.

Providers can use the parent declaration form from September 2017 to apply for DAF. This form is for parents whose child is attending their setting and will include a box for parents to tick if their child is in receipt of disability living allowance.

Providers should apply for DAF via the 'DAF' tab on the Early Years Funding Portal and attach a copy of the completed form and proof of eligibility.

For further information, please see Icon for pdf our Applying for DAF guidance [379KB] .

DAF funding terms and conditions

  • The local authority will fund all early years settings providing a place for each child eligible for the DAF in their area at the fixed annual rate of £615 per eligible child
  • The DAF will not be offset against any other funding which the local authority may ordinarily be providing for children eligible for the DAF
  • The DAF is payable as a lump sum once a year, per eligible child. If a child eligible for the DAF is splitting their free entitlement across two or more providers, parents must specify their nominated childcare provider on the DAF declaration form. This setting will be where the local authority will pay the DAF for the child
  • If a child receiving DAF moves from one setting to another within a financial year, the new setting is not eligible to receive DAF funding for this child within the same financial year. DAF funding received by the original setting will not be recouped by the local authority and is not transferable to another setting
  • Where a child lives in one authority area but attends a provider in a different local authority, the provider's local authority is responsible for funding the DAF for the child and eligibility checking
  • All early years providers who are eligible to receive funding for the 3 and 4 year old early entitlement education are also eligible to receive the DAF

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