Disability Access Fund (DAF)
What is the Disability Access Fund?
Children aged 3 and 4 years old, who are in receipt of the disability living allowance (DLA) and claiming an early education funded place could be eligible to apply additional funding through the Disability Access Fund (DAF).
This could mean childcare providers could get access to a one payment of £615 per calendar year for each eligible child that could aid in making reasonable adjustments at the setting and improve accessibility.
What is the purpose of the fund?
The purpose of the fund is to help providers make reasonable adjustments within their provision to support children with a disability. Childcare providers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and ensure they support the equity of access of all children to their provision under the Equality Act 2010. Staffordshire County Council is committed to ensuring that all children have equal access to learning.
Definition of ‘Access’ and responsibility to make ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ For the purpose of DAF and early years, access refers to:
- the means or opportunity to enter the provision of space where early education is to take place. This includes either domestic or non-domestic premises.
- the means or opportunity to engage with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) with reference to the seven areas of learning and development and welfare requirements.
Substantial disadvantage can be avoided by making reasonable adjustments for disabled children. This means making positive steps to ensure that disabled children can fully participate in early education and enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services offered by the provision.
The reasonable adjustment duty comprises of three requirements:
- Provision, criteria and practices
- Auxiliary aids and services
- Physical features
Definition of ‘Disability’: A person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. (Equality Act 2010). A physical or mental impairment includes learning difficulties, mental health conditions, medical conditions and hidden impairments such as dyslexia, autism and speech, language and communication impairments. It is important to note that because a pupil has a disability; it does not necessarily mean that he/she has special educational needs
Providers in Staffordshire are eligible to receive DAF where a three or four year old child is taking up a place and the child is in receipt of DLA3 and the child is taking up EEF (either some or all hours of their entitlement).
Four year olds in primary school reception/foundation stage classes are not eligible for DAF. Providers are encouraged to raise awareness of DAF with parents in order to identify eligible children. The parent declaration form should be used to ascertain if a child meets the relevant criteria for DAF. This will also ensure that providers have gained the necessary consent from parents to support an application.
If a child, eligible for DAF, is splitting their free entitlement across two or more providers their parent(s) will need to nominate the provider to whom they wish the payment to be made. This will usually be the provider where the child is accessing the majority of their free entitlement hours.
A DAF grant will only be paid once a year for an eligible child (this can be from any date within a term). If a child receiving DAF moves from one provider to another, the new provider is not eligible to receive DAF until a year after the date that the council approved the original application. If an eligible child remains with the same provider for more than a year, that provider can re-apply for a second grant a year after the original application.
How do providers apply?
Providers can apply for DAF via the Early Years Provider Portal. Technical guidance to support this process can be found on the portal.
Staffordshire providers can submit DAF applications for eligible children who attend their provision but reside outside of the county boundaries.
Applications received and approved before the 20th of the month will be paid by no later than the 20th date of the month thereafter.
What can funds be used for?
Providers should consider what reasonable adaptations are required to ensure the child has the same equity of access to the provision as any other child. Resources required to ensure basic entry and reasonable adjustments to the learning and physical environment should be the priority for DAF.
For further guidance please contact the SENIS Team
- Providers should involve the child’s parent(s) and engage with other professionals working with the family to ensure DAF is spent appropriately.
- If providers choose to ‘pool’ funds with other providers, they may choose to enter into an agreement regarding ownership, use and maintenance of resources. This may only be possible for non-static items and is at the discretion of the provider who purchased the resource.
- Providers who have more than one child eligible for DAF at the same time may wish to ‘pool’ DAF . This may provide an opportunity to support an adjustment or purchase of equipment that benefits more than one child.
- Providers are encouraged to forward plan in utilising DAF to ensure a child’s needs are met for the duration of time that the child will be attending their provision before they start school. However, providers are advised to spend DAF within the term it is awarded.
- Any resources purchased as part of DAF remain the property of that provider. However, if a child is moving onto another provider, they may wish to make arrangements for the transfer of any resources.
- Providers may wish to allow parents to take resources home for weekends and holiday periods if they feel they would benefit the child.
- Providers are encouraged to spend the entire £615 on the child eligible and meet the shortfall for any items over this amount.
- Staffordshire County Council will not meet any additional requests for funding above the standard DAF grant.
- DAF should not be used to fund trips, assessments, 1:1 support or additional staffing, staff training or any other activity outside the definition of ‘access’ as outlined above.
- Providers must ensure that any equipment purchased meet the relevant safety requirements. Electrical items must be PAT tested yearly.
- Providers must ensure any building adaptations meet the appropriate regulations and standards.
- Providers must keep receipts and proof of spend for audit purposes by Staffordshire County Council/Entrust.