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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Early years – specialist support

If your child has significant or complex delays to their development, they may need more specialist services and support.

If your child is in an early years setting, your setting SENCO can give your more information about services and support.

Your GP or health visitor should be able to give more information about these health services and how to access them.

Devon Early Years Complex Needs Service

Devon Early Years Complex Needs Service is a year-round education service for children with the most severe and complex developmental needs. The service supports children to achieve success using a small-steps, play-based, child-centred approach.

The service works in the home and in the community settings with parents and partner agencies to promote inclusive practice and to build confidence and resilience.

The service is registered with the National Portage Association (NPA) which is identified in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice as an early intervention service for children with significant and complex needs aged 0-5 and their families.

You can find more information on Pinpoint Devon.

You can also follow us on our Devon Early Years Complex Needs Facebook page.

What does the service do?

  • Works with families to help them develop a quality of life and experience, for themselves and their young children, in which they can learn together, play together, participate and be included in their community in their own right.
  • Plays a part in minimising the disabling barriers that confront young children and their families.
  • Supports the development of inclusive services for children.

How do we support families?

The service includes qualified teachers and experienced practitioners who support children and families on a range of pathways.

Diagram showing the ways the Early Years Complex Needs Service support families.

For more information see our EYCN Pathways information.

How do I know if my child is eligible?

To access the EYCN Service, children should meet one or more of the criteria below:

  • Show significant/profound delay in at least two or more areas of development, one of which must be cognition.
  • Present with significant and complex neuro-disability, for example Autism Spectrum Disorder, this must be significantly impacting on their cognition, their ability to learn and their ability to participate in daily activities.
  • Present as non-verbal or have significantly impaired communication
  • Have an existing diagnosis of a condition, where there is likely to be significant/profound delay to include cognition.
  • Children referred to the Under 5’s Specialist Children’s Assessment Centre (SCAC) may also be referred to EYCN Service via the SPOA route where appropriate. This can happen at point of acceptance to the SCAC and does not need to be an outcome of the specialist assessment process.

You will need to make a referral to access support from the Devon Early Years Complex Needs Service.

Referral information (Devon Children and Family Health Devon)

How can my child be referred to the Early Years Complex Needs Service?

All referrals to portage go through the Single Point of Access (SPOA) based in Exeter.

You can request services via the Single Point of Access:

You can also email them at or telephone them on 0330 0245 321.

Who can refer?

  • Any professional working with the child and/or family (health / social care / education)
  • Parents/carers
  • Early Years setting – following discussion with their Early Years Consultant and evidence of a Graduated Response.

Referral documents

Please note, if the referrals arrive at Single Point of Access without the appropriate documents/evidence, we will be unable to action them until all relevant documentation is received.

  • Completed request for service form/letter and parental consent.
  • Early years setting report for all children currently attending a setting (including childminders).
  • Evidence of significant and complex delay in two developmental areas which must include detailed evidence of significant cognitive delay (see criteria).
  • Evidence of how professionals have tried to target areas of delay in the community, e.g. demonstrated through a TAF.
  • Evidence of the Graduated Response if a referral is from an Early Years setting. Settings should have discussed the child with their Early Years Consultant prior to the referral being made.
  • Evidence that the child has had an Early Help Assessment (Right for Children) if appropriate.
  • Copies of ASQs, Two Year Old and Let’s Talk More assessments where appropriate, including a summary of the child’s needs.


Devon Portage also delivers the following training for parents and professionals:

  • Total Communication, in partnership with the Speech and Language Therapy Team, is for parents, practitioners and early years settings.
  • Including Children with Significant Additional Needs is training for practitioners in early years settings.

Educational psychology

The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) delivers high-quality education support services to schools and settings across Devon.

Find out more about the support that educational psychologists can offer. You can also find a guide about what an educational psychologist does, written for children and young people.

Specialist Children’s Assessment Centres

Children and Family Health Devon provides Specialist Children’s Assessment Centres for children aged 0 – 5 years with significant developmental difficulties. The centres offer assessments in the most appropriate venue for you and your child.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) play a key role in the diagnosis of children with different speech, language and communication needs. More information about SLTs and other support available can be found on our speech, language and communication needs page.


Vranch House provides Physiotherapy for children aged 0-5.

How can I access this support for my child?

If your child needs a service from Vranch House, anyone working with your child can make a referral.

If you are in East or West Devon, this will be sent straight to Vranch House; in North Devon the referral goes to the Physiotherapy team in Barnstaple Health Centre.

To access services based in Torbay Hospital John Parkes Unit (except for emergency and inpatient care), you can contact the hospital to make an appointment.

Augmented and Alternative Communication Aids (AACA)

What’s available?

Vranch House provides Augmented and Alternative Communication Aids (AAC)

How do I get it?

If a child needs a service from Vranch House, anyone working with the child can make a referral.


What’s available?

Vranch House has a Specialist Wheelchair Service.

How do I get it?

If a child needs a service from Vranch House, anyone working with the child can make a referral.