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additional support needs

Services should do their utmost to be inclusive of children with additional support needs, including children with sensory or physical disabilities, or with a range of learning difficulties. Some services may suit you and your child better as they are specialist in caring for children with similar needs; e.g. the Royal Blind School's Kidscene After School Care caters for a range of children with visual impairments, as well as those without such impairments. To ensure your child is well looked after it is important that you are aware of the staff training and skills in supporting children with their particular needs and it might be the case there is a need for further staff training or the engagement of a specialist support worker. Where additional staff are needed it is sometimes possible to get financial support to the service from the local authority, as it is unlikely the service could afford to cover such costs themselves.

For children with complex needs it can be harder to access the specialist support required and there are certainly not enough services in place to ensure families have access to out of school and holiday care. Sometimes there are specialist holiday care services set up which are much more about offering children with complex needs access to play and social opportunities, rather than enabling parents to work. Many children with less complex needs can thrive in a non-specialist service without an additional support worker; every child, and indeed every service, is different. Parents and carers of children with additional support needs are, understandably, often that bit more protective of their children and might not consider that a local after school or holiday service really could offer an inclusive place where their child would be happy and well cared for, yet many do so successfully.

Sometimes, as we covered in the Accessibility section, there are physical barriers in terms of the premises that the out of school care service uses; some are located upstairs in old school buildings without lifts or ramps. Over time, as school buildings get more modernised, we hope this will become less of an issue. Many out of school care services cannot afford to move or pay for more expensive premises. However, no matter whether they can or cannot accommodate your child they should try to help you with local or national sources of support.

If you as a parent or carer have an additional support need, the service should do their utmost to ensure you are included and equally access parental information and events. This could include ensuring that parents evenings are held in accessible venues; to providing you with information in alternative formats.

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