Before school (0 - 5 years)

Below is a list of local support services and organisations that can work with you and your child.

Children's centres

There are nine children’s centres across the city. Each children’s centre has a centre leader, children’s centre support workers, an information champion and a special educational needs champion (SEN Champion).

Families can access services both within children’s centres and through the outreach service, which works in local communities.

The children’s centres offer support for parent/carers with children under five including:

  • parenting support
  • information and advice
  • access to local services and childcare
  • small groups for specific programmes
  • access to child and family health services
  • help and advice for parents wanting to train or return to work

Children’s centres also work closely with other early years settings, offering training and support to ensure quality of childcare provision across the city.

For more information about York’s children’s centres, please contact York Family Information Service.

T: 01904 554444


Child Development Centre

Staff working at York Hospital in the Child Development Centre (CDC) are likely to know your child well if your child has significant medical needs. They'll talk to you and may liaise with your child’s early years setting or school to ensure their needs are met and advice is shared. The team involved with your child could include a physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and paediatrician, depending on your child’s needs. If your child attends CDC groups, a specialist early years teacher may also be involved.

Early years settings (nurseries, childminders and playgroups)

All early years settings have a pre-school special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) or inclusion coordinator.They will talk to you about your child’s needs and how the setting can best support them. It's their responsibility to coordinate support for your child in the setting and to liaise with other professionals to ensure that all the needs of your child are planned for in advance.

Top tip - Find out who the SENCo or inclusion coordinator is at your local early years setting.

For further information about choosing childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities please visit our childcare section.

Health visiting

Health visitors support all families with children who are pre-school, from pregnancy to starting school. The health visiting teams are based in children’s centres or NHS health clinics and they include health visitors, a staff nurse and child development workers.

The Health visiting team helps children and families to stay healthy and avoid illness. They work alongside GPs, midwives and other health and social care professionals, the voluntary sector and with families and communities to help parents to prepare for birth and adapt to the time ahead. Health visitors provide parenting support, enabling parent/carers to provide sensitive and effective parenting during the first months and years of life. They may see you at home, in health settings (including GP surgeries), and children’s centres. You can talk to your health visitor about any concern you may have about your pre-school child.


Home Start (volunteers in your home)

Home Start York is a voluntary organisation that offers practical and emotional support to parents with pre-school children. The trained volunteers, who are parents themselves, provide home visits to families for a few hours each week. Home Start offers encouragement and reassurance to help parents grow in confidence and feel more able to cope.

Nursery (Enhanced Resource Provision)

St Paul's Nursery is a maintained nursery school with an enhanced resource centre. Visit the nursery school's website for further information.


Specialist Early Years Support (0-5)

The Educational Psychology Service provides leadership and management to the Specialist Early Years Support Team (SEYST), through the Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist (Early Years). The Specialist Early Years Support Team includes: 

  • Early Support Coordinator
  • City of York Portage
  • Specialist Early Years Teachers (SEN)
  • Early Years Educational Psychology – Specialist Senior EP (EY)

 The Specialist Early Years Support Team collaborates closely with other services and professionals e.g. medical practitioners and therapists at the Child Development Centre (CDC) York hospital, and in the community, educational psychologists, the specialist teaching team (vision support, deaf and hearing support, physical and medical support and support for children with Autism), practitioners from Early Years Settings, Children’s Centres, the Early Years advisory and administrative teams and voluntary organisations. Members of the service are also involved in national and regional organisations within early years and SEN, and are accredited trainers for the National Portage Association (NPA) and for Early Support.

Criteria for requesting involvement from the Specialist Early Years Support Team and Educational Psychology Service


Early Support Coordinator (ESC)

The post of ESC within the SEYST was developed in 2007 as part of the original Early Support Programme for young disabled children age 0-5 years and their families. Each family with a child 0-5 years is able to nominate one of the professionals working with them to be their Early Support Key Worker (ESKW). The ESKWs help families to coordinate services and provide families with information and support. The key workers are drawn from many different agencies and are coordinated by the Early Support Coordinator (ESC).

The Early Support Key Worker Coordinator (ESC) works closely support services and practitioners from education, health and children’s social care, and particularly the health and disabilities team. She co-delivers training with other members of the Specialist Early Years Support Team and provides parent support activities at the Child Development Centre, York Hospital, and at the Children’s Centres, as well as visiting individual families in their own homes.


Specialist Early Years Teachers

The Specialist Early Years Teachers (SEN) provide support and advice for children from 2-5 years with additional needs. They have expertise and training in child development, early learning and teaching children with additional needs.  They work directly with pre-school children as well as providing information and advice to others: parents and carers, staff in early years settings, medical practitioners and therapists in the community and at the Child Development Centre (CDC), York Hospital and any other professionals involved with a child.

Referrals are made to the Specialist EY Teachers at SEN Support by the SENCo from an EY Setting or by other professionals seeing the child. Following further assessment, practical advice and recommendations related the child’s learning and development are then provided.  The teachers are also available at their base on one day a month for telephone consultations:  ‘Consultation day’.  They conduct weekly preschool language intervention groups with specialist speech and language therapists at CDC York Hospital. They are also involved in a variety of projects, steering groups, training e.g. Early Years SENCO training and termly Networks, Behaviour management, etc.

Educational Psychology Services for Pre-School Children in York

All Educational Psychologists deliver services for pre-school children with SEND, typically this is within geographical clusters; this helps to provide continuity for pre-school children transferring into schools and settings.

For children with complex needs Educational Psychologists offer direct casework with pre-school children at SEN Support as part of a Statutory Assessment for an Education Health and Care Plan, and attend transition meetings or Annual Reviews when needed.

The Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist (SSEP) for Early Years line-manages the service delivery of the Specialist Early Years Support Team and seeks to ensure the delivery of high quality early intervention and support across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

The SSEP (EY) works closely with other LA employees who support children and practitioners in the Early Years Foundation Stage, and also with colleagues in Health, School Improvement and Child and Family Services. This includes participation in direct casework; consultation and providing solution-focused advice, training initiatives; and in strategic early years partnerships and collaborative work with Children’s Centres and the Early Learning Leaders and other Early Years teams including conducting and writing smaller scale research projects and reports e.g. evaluation of the Early Years Inclusion Fund 2016.

The SSEP (EY) also provides advice to parents, early years practitioners in private, voluntary and independent early years settings (PVI) and other practitioners related to children’s developmental through direct casework, training and consultation.

The SSEP (EY) leads on the Early Years SENCo training course, and also participates in the accredited Portage training course, as well as offering a variety of other early child development, SEN and inclusion courses. 




Related pages

Useful documents


York Family Information Service

01904 554444