The disability access fund (DAF) is a measure for early years providers. It is designed to support children with disabilities or special educational needs. The DAF aids access to early years places by supporting providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings and helping with building capacity (be that for the child in question or for the benefit of children as a whole attending the setting).
Three and four year olds will be eligible for the DAF if they meet both of the following criteria:
- the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance (DLA)
- the child receives free early education
Note: Four-year olds in primary school reception classes are NOT eligible for DAF funding. Children become eligible for free early education at different points in the year depending on when they turn three.
- The settings of three- and four-year-olds eligible for the DAF will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £800 per year. The DAF is not based on an hourly rate and is an additional entitlement.
- Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to in order to receive the DAF. Children in receipt of the DAF will be eligible where they take-up any period of free entitlement.
Identifying eligible children
Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children. Providers are encouraged to speak to parents in order to find out who is eligible for the DAF. Parents of children qualifying for Disability Living Allowance will be required to provide documented evidence of this entitlement, and providers will need to take a copy of this evidence and email to
How early years providers receive DAF funding
- The local authority will fund all early years settings providing a place for each child eligible for the DAF in their area at the fixed annual rate of £800 per eligible child.
- The DAF will not be offset against any other funding which the local authority may ordinarily be providing for children eligible for the DAF.
- The DAF is payable as a lump sum once a year per eligible child. If a child eligible for the DAF is splitting their free entitlement across two or more providers, the local authority will ask parents to nominate the main setting. This setting will be where the local authority will pay the DAF for the child.
- If a child receiving DAF moves from one setting to another within a financial year, the new setting is not eligible to receive DAF funding for this child within the same financial year. DAF funding received by the original setting will not be recouped by the local authority.
- Where a child lives in one authority area but attends a provider in a different local authority, the provider’s local authority is responsible for funding the DAF for the child and eligibility checking.
- All early years providers who are eligible to receive funding for the 3- and 4-year-old early entitlement education are also eligible to receive the DAF.
- Payment in any further years will not be automatic - the parent must provide evidence on an annual basis and the process will need to be repeated every year.
Need more help? Find out who to talk to?
Contact the Information Advice and Support Service for free, impartial information, advice and support for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Support is also offered to children and young people with SEND. They can also help provide information in a non web format.