All professionals working with under 5’s are expected to make parents/carers aware of the Best Start in Life offer and explain the benefits of engaging with these services to support their child or childrens development and access wider family support in the first instance. Professionals should also encourage and support parents/carer to register with the Children and Family Centre Service in order for them to access this support and receive regular information about services. Referrals are not required for families to access the universal Best Start in Life offer and these can be accessed in addition to any targeted and specialist support they receive
If as part of their work with a family, a professional identifies a child that is under 5 that they believe may have learning and developmental delay or SEND that will require additional support/interventions, that cannot be met through the universal Best Start in Life offer, in order for the child to make expected levels of progress in the years leading up to and when they take up their free early education/school place, they should make a referral to the Early Years Inclusion Pathway to enable the Local Authority to make arrangements for the appropriate information and/or support to be provided. Ideally this referral would be made by a health professional working with the family, but if this is not possible for any reason any professional can make a referral.
Health bodies must make a referral to the Early Years Inclusion Pathway as they have a statutory duty under Section 23 of the Children and Family Act 2014 to bring to the attention of the Local Authority any child that resides in Waltham Forest who is under compulsory school age where, in the course of exercising functions in relation to a child, they form the opinion that the child has (or probably has) special educational needs or a disability.
- inform the child's parent of their opinion and of their duty, and
- give the child's parent an opportunity to discuss their opinion with an officer of the group or trust.
If the group or trust think a particular voluntary organisation is likely to be able to give the parent advice or assistance in connection with any special educational needs or disability the child may have, they must inform the parent of that.
As part of this duty Health professionals will seek consent from you share information about your child. The local authority will respond to the notification, and act upon the shared information to ensure appropriate learning and development/education support is put in place for your family, and integrate this with support provided by health and other services/professionals as appropriate.
Nurseries, preschools and childminders also have a duty to seek support from other professionals to support your child’s learning and development if they are unable to meet their needs.
Please note: We anticipate that the learning and development needs of your child, prior to them taking up their Reception Class or year 1 place in a school, would be met as part of the multi-agency support that is provided via the Early Years Inclusion Pathway. Support provided as part of this pathway will support your child’s learning and development and ensure that robust transition and support arrangements are in place for when your child starts school/nursery. We would expect requests by health professionals and early years settings to the local authority for learning and development support for your child would be made via the Early Years Inclusion Pathway in the first instance. For some children, where it is appropriate, an EHC needs assessment is requested.
If in addition to your child’s learning and development needs there are other family/social issues that your family would like support with, a separate referral will need to be made to MASH for support from Early Help or Social Care. You can make this referral yourself or you can speak to any professional supporting your family e.g. a health professional or staff at your child’s school/nursery who can make this referral on your behalf. You can also access a range of support and information from Waltham Forest Children and Family Centre Services.