Early Years SEND Funding

Early Years Provisions can access a variety of further funding to support children with learning and developmental delay and SEND. This page provides an outline of the funding options available in the Early Years and guidance on how to apply and access these.

Disability Access Fund (DAF)

If a child is aged three or four and is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the setting can apply for the Disability Access Fund (DAF).

The purpose of DAF is to support early years settings to make initial reasonable adjustments and to build the capacity of their setting to support disabled children. DAF is a one-off payment of £881 per year.

If a child is splitting their FEEE across two providers, the parent will be required to confirm in writing to the local authority which school or setting they nominate as the main setting and who will receive DAF funding. This information is recorded by the parent on their parental declaration form.

Full details about claiming DAF funding can be found in Section 1.11 of the FEEE Financial Guidance 23-24To claim DAF for a child at your setting, you should upload the documentary evidence (child’s disability living allowance award letter) to the child’s record on the Early Years Provider Portal and notify the local authority with an email to FEEEProvision@walthamforest.gov.uk

SEN Inclusion Fund (SENIF)

The SEN Inclusion Fund (SENIF) is funding available to early years providers, (including childminders in receipt of FEEE) for supporting children with learning and developmental delay or SEND. The funding is for use in the early years provision that the child attends and will be paid to the provider to be used to support the needs of the identified individual child.

Funding will move with the child if they are to change provisions, provided the new provision is still in Waltham Forest and is a FEEE provider, this needs to be considered if employing additional staff. It is the early years provision’s responsibility to notify EYSEND.PANEL@walthamforest.gov.uk if a child in receipt of SENIF leaves the provision, please include the date the child left.

Eligibility for the funding

  • 2-year-olds and 3-and 4-year-olds taking up their FEEE place.
  • Attending an early years provision in the London Borough of Waltham Forest
  • Presenting with additional needs in the moderate to profound delay range with over thirteen months of learning and developmental delay or SEND.


SENIF Notional Budget

SENIF Notional Budget has replaced the process of applying for SENIF level 2 which was in place during 2023/24. SENIF level 2 payments ceased on the 31 March 2024.  Please note, Early years OFSTED registered providers, schools and childminders will be required  to submit SENIF applications for SENIF level 3&4 funding using the SENIF application form. 

SENIF Notional Budget will be paid to all OFSTED registered settings providing FEEE funding, based on the number of OFSTED registered places. The funding will be paid at £140 per place. 

The SENIF Notional Budget payments will be processed on a monthly basis (1/12th of annual payment) and will start from April 2024. They will be shown on the remittance with a description ‘SENIF Notional Budget 1 of 12’ for your ease of reference.  

Early years OFSTED registered providers and schools* will not have to apply for SENIF Notional Budget, it will be paid automatically.

*NB: Please note: Childminders will not receive a SENIF notional budget but they can apply for SENIF funding for children who have a learning and developmental delay of twenty-four months and below or those with a learning and developmental delay of twenty-five months or higher.  Childminders should contact their Childminding Development Officer prior to making any SENIF  referrals.

Our expectation is that all OFSTED registered settings and schools will support inclusivity and equality of access to FEEE places for families and that OFSTED registered settings and schools who receive SENIF Notional Budget funding should be able to meet the needs of children taking up their FEEE place with low/medium level learning and developmental delay through the use of  OAP, AET and Speech Language and Communication needs strategies in order to support children to make expected levels of progress. 

If you have any questions or require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at EYSEND.Panel@walthamforest.gov.uk and FEEEprovision@walthamforest.gov.uk.

Process for applying for SENIF Level 3 and 4 funding

Download the Applying for SENIF’ document below for more information regarding the application process.

SENIF Panel dates September 2023 to July 2024

The SEN Inclusion Fund Panel will be held monthly. Please see below for the dates of the panel meetings and the last date applications/supporting documents need to be submitted by to be considered at panel.

Please be aware, any applications made for a child starting school in September 2024 will NOT be considered for funding after the May 2024 panel date.

Last Date to Submit Application and Supporting Documentation for the Panel Date of Panel
Friday 15 September 2023 Week commencing 25 September 2023
Friday 20 October 2023 Week commencing 30 October 2023
Friday 17 November 2023 Week commencing 27 November 2023
Friday 8 December 2023 Week commencing 18 December 2023
Friday 19 January 2024 Week commencing 29 January 2024
Friday 16 February 2024 Week commencing 26 February 2024
Friday 15 March 2024 Week commencing 25 March 2024
Friday 19 April 2024 Week commencing 29 April 2024
Friday 10 May 2024 Week commencing 20 May 2024 Final Panel date for ALL children starting school September 2024*
Friday 14 June 2024 Week commencing 24 June 2024
Friday 12 July 2024** Week commencing 22 July 2024

*SENIF applications for children starting school in September 2024 will NOT be considered after the May panel date

**Please note, there will not be a SENIF Panel in August 2024. The Panel will meet again in September 2024

Please ensure all applications are completed in full and on the current SENIF application form and parent/carer’s email address typed. The Panel are unable to consider incomplete applications, these will be sent back to you and you will be asked to resend the complete application. Please be aware this may lead to a delay in funding being approved. It is paramount we receive fully completed applications, including a parent/carer signature to meet GDPR requirements and to ensure an accurate decision is made with regards to the support required to meet the needs of the child.

SEND Inclusion Funding Prior to a Child’s Start Date

Where SENIF applications are made from professionals outside of the Early Years provision a child is due to be attending, or applications made before a child starts at a provision, if funding is felt to be appropriate, this will generally be approved for two months. 

This is to support the transition period, enable the child to settle into the new provision and for the provision to get to know the child; their strengths, areas for additional support etc. and to put an Early Years Support Plan in place. Provisions are then asked to complete a SENIF Review Application form prior to the funding end date, as by this point, it is expected the provision will be able to provide further information due to them having a better understanding of the child.  This process is to support the child and the provision and to prevent a barrier for the child starting at the nursery whilst waiting for funding.

Allocation of the funding

Decisions about whether to allocate funding and the amount of Additional Hourly Rate Top Up Funding are made by the Early Years, Childcare and Business Development Service.  They will assess the information provided in the application and make a decision against the level of developmental delay in the three prime areas of the EYFS and any additional health needs. 

A SENIF Decision form will be sent to the referrer. It is the early years provisions responsibility to ensure the recommendations are implemented and parents/carers are informed of the funding. If an early years provision feels the level of funding agreed by the panel is not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, please discuss this initially with your allocated Area SENCO, or EYs SEND Advisor. Any early years provision requesting a higher level of funding must submit a SENIF Review Application form and supporting evidence, explaining the reasons why they believe the child requires a higher level of funding.

SENIF Funding Levels

What are the Additional Hourly Rate Top Up Funding Levels and what are they based on?

The Additional Hourly Rate Top Up Funding approved will be based on the child’s learning and developmental delay in the three prime areas of the EYFS.

Funding will be based on the area with the most developmental delay. Details of this can be found in the table below.

0 - 6 Months - - - -
7 - 12 Months No SENIF referral required SENIF Notional Budget SENIF Notional Budget Support through ALL Talk, SEND Passport Training
13 - 24 Months No SENIF referral required SENIF Notional Budget SENIF Notional Budget Support through the use of OAP, AET and Spport4Talk
25+ Months SENIF referral required Level 3 £7.00 £105 (£210 per wk 30 hrs per week)
Profound and Multiple Learning Disability including Profound SEMH Needs SENIF referral required LEvel 4 £10.00 £150 (£300 per wk 30hrs per week)

SENIF in Reception 

‘SENIF in Reception’ funding will be paid where a child has been identified as having a lower level learning and development delay, which is likely to require additional support in their Reception year.  

The table below sets out the period of funding and funding levels for each of the scenarios.


Eligibility Criteria for SENIF in Reception FundingDuration of SENIF in Reception Funding

Scenario 1:

Children who were in receipt of level 3 SENIF in pre-school/Nursery where a decision to issue an EHCP has been agreed and is still in process. 

SENIF funding would be paid at level 3 (£7 p/h) up until the EHCP has been finalised and EHCP payments commence.
Scenario 2:
Children who were in receipt of SENIF level 3 in pre-school / Nursery where a EHCP request to assess has been agreed, but a decision as to whether to issue has not yet been made.
•    If a decision to issue an EHCP is agreed SENIF funding will be paid at level 3 (£7 p/h) up until the EHCP has been finalised and EHCP payments commence
•    If following the EHCP assessment there is a decision not to issue an EHCP, then SENIF funding will be paid at level 3 up until the date of the decision not to issue.
Scenario 3:
Children who were in receipt of SENIF level 3 in pre-school /Nursery where their ongoing learning and development needs are expected to be met by Ordinarily Available Practice. 
SENIF funding will be paid at SENIF level 3 (£7 p/h) to support transition up until the end of Autumn Term: Thursday 19 December 2024.
Scenario 4:
Children who have started in Reception and have learning and developmental delay and have not been in receipt of SENIF.
Contact your early years send advisor or contact EYSEND.PANEL@walthamforest.gov.uk. 


Payments of the allocated funding

Additional Hourly Rate Top Up Funding for level 3 or 4 may be approved, in principle, until the end of the academic year. A start date and end date will be included on the SENIF Decision Form, along with the level of funding agreed. All payments will be based on the child’s actual hours of attendance, it is the early years provision’s responsibility to inform the local authority if there are any changes to the child’s attendance hours, please email EYSEND.PANEL@walthamforest.gov.uk.

The payments are made on a monthly basis, based on the start and end date on the SENIF Decision Form. Any missed payments will be backdated in the next payment run the following month. These payments will be reconciled at the end of term.

Use of the allocated funding

The funding is to support the inclusion of a child with learning and developmental delay or SEND, promote early intervention and improve outcomes for the child.

Examples of how early years providers can use the SENIF include:

  • To embed the Ordinarily Available Provision

  • Build capacity within the early years provision with additional staffing to support specific interventions/strategies for the child

  • Specialist or one-off training to upskill whole team or staff member(s)

  • Enhance ratios in order to support the child

The use of the allocated funding will be monitored by the Early Years and Childcare Team’s Area SENCOs, EYs SEND Advisor and Early Years Advisory Teacher.

Local authority SENIF monitoring

Continuation of funding until the end of the 2023-2024 academic year will be subject to the satisfactory completion of local authority monitoring. Local authority monitoring will comprise of; randomly selecting Early Years provisions to complete and submit a SENIF Review Application form, as well as an up to date My Early Years Support plan and any other supporting documents to evidence the effective implementation of this. Documents submitted as part of the local authority monitoring process will be reviewed by the SENIF Panel.

Allocated Area SENCOs and EYs SEND Advisors will also be monitoring the use of SENIF during visits to early years provisions, as a part of the local authority monitoring process.

It is the early years provision’s responsibility to inform the Early Years and Childcare Team immediately if a child leaves a provision and/or if they make significant progress which means they no-longer require SENIF, if the child’s hours of attendance change, or if the level of funding needs to be reduced EYSEND.Panel@walthamforest.gov.uk.

It is the Early Years provision’s responsibility to apply for an extension of funding if required, at which point a SENIF Review form should be submitted the month before the funding end date.

For further information please speak to your allocated Area SENCO if you are a PVI, the EYs SEND Advisor if you’re a school, or your Childminder Development Worker, if you’re a childminder. If you need any further support or have any questions about the SEN Inclusion Fund email EYSEND.Panel@walthamforest.gov.uk

Last update: Thursday 18th of April 2024 11:26:45 AM