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SEND Funding - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SEN Inclusion Fund

The SEN inclusion fund (SENIF) is a source of funding available to early years providers claiming early education.  It enables them meet low or emerging SEN for funded children.

Purpose of the SEN Inclusion Fund

All children develop and learn in different ways and at varying rates; however, they will all have areas of strengths and special interests along with areas of weakness. A child may have a special educational need if despite appropriate activities and an individualised support plan, they continue to experience greater difficulty in learning than their peers.

Therefore, this funding if awarded by panel will provide financial support to initiate and deliver the special educational provision that is "additional to and different from" the support made generally available to other children of the same age.

Which children are eligible for the SEN Inclusion Fund

The fund is to support children who are in receipt of their early education entitlement and have SEN need.

Which Early Years Providers can make a request for SEN funding?

Any provider who has signed the Norfolk Local Funding Agreement and the Local Authority has agreed that Early Education funding can be offered to families.

What can the SEN Inclusion Fund be used for?

The funding should be used to put in early support to improve outcomes for the child and reduce longer term difficulties.

Examples of how providers can use the fund include:

  • Enhance staff ratios within the environment in order to increase the capacity of the children's key person to offer adult focused activities/support specific intervention
  • Key persons time to engage with specialist support from outside agencies, such as speech and language therapy, physiotherapy
  • Support for co-ordinating key worker duties, such as team around the child

The SEN Inclusion Funding will not support

  • The delivery of the Universal Offer (standard inclusive practice) offered to all children
  • Resources available through the Local Offer
  • The cost of resources and/or equipment available via other funding opportunities offered by the Local Authority (this includes third party funding)
  • The cost of specialist support from outside agencies that has been privately arranged by a third party
  • One to One support (unless specified on an EHC Plan)
  • To keep records up to date
  • Transitions to school
  • Settling in periods
  • Toileting (unless this is related to the child's SEND)
  • Attending meetings and training

What if the child is under 3 years old?

It is not a statutory requirement for any Local Authority to have additional funding available for those children that are not in receipt of the early education entitlement.

However, Norfolk has a limited amount of funding available to support providers to meet the needs of this cohort of children provided certain criteria is met.

Will all children under 3 years old receive funding for additional support?

Claims for Exceptional funding can be submitted for children under 3 years old, if they are banded at least 4 across all areas of development, and have a medical and/or complex need.

Will Exceptional funding be limited?

It is likely that the Local Authority will need to prioritise any claims for funding in the event that a high number of applications are received.

The priority will be those:

  • Entitled to and receiving early education
  • With an issued Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • That have or are looked after by the Local Authority
  • That have complex and/or medical need (Banded 4 and/or 5)
  • Those transitioning to 3 and 4-year-old early education the following claim period

When claiming this funding, it will be expected that providers will have already exhausted all other support sources available through the Local Offer as a minimum.

Can I apply to the SEN Inclusion Fund if the child has an EHCP?

Providers can access funding for funded children with an agreed or issued EHCP by making a one-off request for funding via the EHCP application form.  Funding requests for all other children must be submitted via a SENIF or Exceptional application.

What happens if a child leaves during the claim period?

For funded children, the SEN claim will be adjusted once the portal record has been adjusted.  For non funded children, it is expected that the provider will inform the Local Authority via email earlyyearsfundingpanel@norfolk.gov.uk, so that the claim can be adjusted

What happens when the child transitions into reception class?

Schools receive their SEN funding in a different way to early years. When a child transitions into reception class the school will use the financial resources within their school budget initially and then any additional funding to support the child will be agreed through the schools funding system.

What if a child shares their early education entitlement between a number of providers?

If a child accesses their early education entitlement from more than one provider, each provider can make a claim to the SEN Inclusion fund, based on the individual child's needs in their setting.

The maximum number of hours available to claim will be the amount funded by the Local Authority for Early Education.

What happens if the child lives in the area of another Local Authority but attends a provider in Norfolk?

Presently all children will be considered for funding, however for non-statutory funding this will be kept under review.

Is there a deadline to submit an application?

There is a strict deadline policy for all SENIF and Exceptional applications.  Applications must be sent by secure email to earlyyearsfundingpanel@norfolk.gov.uk. Applications will be Declined if they are not received by email on time.  Always check that you have received an auto reply, when submitting your application.  EHCP applications can be submitted as soon as the family have written confirmation that a plan has been agreed.

Who should sign the application form?

To sign the form, an electronic signature is acceptable (type name in the box). This, together with the email message will be consider as authorisation to claim the funding.

The person signing the form must have enough delegated responsibility to submit and sign the application on behalf of the setting.

When completed, where should an application be sent for consideration?

All applications (the Excel document) must be received via secure email to the following mailbox - earlyyearsfundingpanel@norfolk.gov.uk

An automated message will be sent to confirm an email has been received by the mailbox.

It is not possible to accept handwritten, postal or pdf applications.

Can the same form be submitted each term?

No, where applications are required termly, it will be necessary to review the needs of the children prior to submitting subsequent applications to ensure the answers to the questions and banding reflect their current need.

What does Panel decide?

For each application received for the SEN Inclusion Fund and 2-year-old Early Education funding, panel will determine that the criteria has been met and funding award based on the answers to the questions and the banding denoted for each area of development.

The outcome determined by panel will be -

  • Agreed
  • Decline

Is there an Appeal process following the panels decision?

The decision of panel is final, there will be no appeal process.

How will the provider be informed of the panel decision / award?

The payment remittance will be the document which provides the panel outcome.  For funded children, their portal record will be updated after panel has agreed an award. 

When will an award be paid?

Payment for any award will be processed in time for the next published early education payment. The remittance will state the child's initials and SEND.

Where do I find the documentation for SEN funding?

All early years information, guidance and documentation can be found at: www.schools.norfolk.gov.uk/early-learning-and-childcare/finance-and-funding/early-years-funding-documentation

Other information about the Local Offer can be found at:  www.norfolk.gov.uk/children-and-families/send-local-offer

Where can I seek support to complete an application for funding?

Support can be sought by calling the Early Years Advice Line on 01603 222300 Opt 3 or emailing earlyyearsandchildcare@norfolk.gov.uk

Alternatively, briefing sessions are held to update providers about funding. Opportunities are given to ask questions, or it is possible to speak directly to a member of the Early Years team.

Is there any other financial support available?

Yes, the Local Authority also offers funding to support the purchase of specialist equipment and resources.

Further information can be found at:  www.schools.norfolk.gov.uk/early-learning-and-childcare/finance-and-funding/early-years-finance-forms-and-templates/early-years-funding-panel