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 accessing universal 15 hours of funded child per week could be eligible to apply additional funding through the Disability Access Fund (DAF).
Childcare providers could get access to a one off payment of £828 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 DAF?
The purpose of the fund is to help providers make reasonable adjustments within their provision to support children to access their funded hours. 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.
Providers in Staffordshire are eligible to receive DAF for a three or four year old is in receipt of DLA and the child is accessing the funded hours (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.
How do providers apply and how is DAF paid?
Providers can apply for DAF via the Early Years Provider Portal. Technical guidance to support this process can be found on the portal. Providers must note how DAF is intended to be used and the child's DLA award letter will need evidenced:
Staffordshire providers can submit DAF applications for eligible children who attend their provision but reside outside of Staffordshire.
Applications received and approved before the 20th of the month will be paid by no later than the 20th date of the month thereafter.
If a child, eligible for DAF, is splitting their funded hours 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 funded 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.
Subject to The Schools and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2023, DAF cannot be paid to some school settings funded under regulation 14. This is applicable to specialist school provision.
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 advice 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 amount received for DAF on the child they applied for and meet the shortfall for any items over this amount.
- DAF can be used to aid one to one support for children if it helps a child who needs additional support to access more funded hours at the setting.
- However, early years settings should be aware that DAF cannot be used for 121 care for children who already receive Early Years Inclusion Funding for 121 support on their funded hours. Settings may need to consider an alternative use for DAF in these cases.
- Early years settings can use DAF for the purchase of specialist staff training that can be attributed to improve the access and experience of children eligible for DAF. The organisation NASEN has past case studies to show how DAF can be put to good use.
- DAF must only be used for the benefit of children gaining access to their funded hours and should not be used just to top up extra hours of childcare or to supplement what are the normal day to day running or staffing costs of the setting.
- Providers must keep receipts and proof of spend for audit purposes by Staffordshire County Council/Entrust.
- Top Tips for early years settings - print version
Timeframe to spend DAF
Providers will have three months to spend DAF from the date each application has been confirmed as eligible by Staffordshire County Council.
Providers may be audited to ensure that funding has been spent in an appropriate and timely manner.
Where is it deemed a provider has not spent DAF within the required timeframe, Staffordshire County Council may decide to reclaim DAF if a provider cannot show their plan for an appropriate spend of the funding.
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