Direct payments are a type of government funding that can be used to cover the cost of support and services for children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. In the UK, direct payments are intended to give families greater flexibility and control over the support and services that their child receives.
Families can use direct payments to cover the cost of SEN childcare, including hiring and paying for their own childcare provider (including a Sennie). This can allow families to choose the childcare arrangements that best meet their child's needs and preferences, rather than relying on services provided by the local authority or school, which are often outdated, unavailable, or unreliable.
To receive direct payments, families must be eligible for support from their local authority and must have an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) in place for their child. The amount of direct payments a family receives will depend on their individual circumstances and the needs of their child.
To apply for direct payments, families should contact their local authority and request an assessment of their child's needs. The local authority will then assess the child's needs and determine whether direct payments are appropriate. If direct payments are approved, the local authority will work with the family to develop a support plan and determine the amount of direct payments the family will receive. Please note, direct payments can be utilised for paying a Sennie (SEN Nanny/Specialist), but they do not cover recruitment expenses such as the costs incurred in conducting a SENNIES Search. Although there are occasional instances where the local authority may reimburse our placement fee, this is a rarity in practice. If reimbursement is granted, you would need to pay the expense first and then wait several months to receive compensation. It is also good to remember that direct payments typically do not fully cover a Sennie's hourly rate, and families may need to supplement the amount approved by the local authority.
For instance, if you are granted £12 per hour for 15 hours per week, but the typical hourly rate for a Sennie is £18 per hour gross (depending on experience), you would have to supplement the payment by £6 per hour and pay privately for any extra hours needed (most Sennies require a minimum of 30 hours per week to retain the right talent).
It's important to remember that families using direct payments are responsible for managing and budgeting the funds they receive, and may need to provide evidence of how the funds are being used to meet their child's needs. It's also important to carefully research and consider the options available before deciding to use direct payments, as they may not be suitable for everyone.
If you are looking for Part-time Childcare, we suggest finding a suitable Nanny/Carer and working with us to train them into a Sennie – please take a look at our Training and support packages for more information.