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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Early Years Complex Needs (EYCN) Service


About our service

Devon’s EYCN Service is a year-round education-based service for children under five 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 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 recognised as an early intervention service for children with significant and complex needs aged 0 to 5 and their families.

The service includes early support advisory teachers (ESATs), team leads and experienced practitioners who support children and families on a range of pathways (see below).

EYCN Service criteria

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

  • Show significant or 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 pre-verbal or have significantly impaired communication.
  • Have an existing diagnosis of a condition, where there is likely to be significant or profound delay to include cognition.

The support available

EYCN Service pathways of support

Devon’s EYCN Service is an early years education service for children with significant or complex developmental delay in two or more areas of development. One of these areas must be cognition (acquiring knowledge or understanding).

The EYCN Service will always work in collaboration with parents and other professionals to ensure the right support is offered, at the right time and in the right place.

One of the key principles of the EYCN Service is to work together with parents and carers on a regular basis to support the child’s learning. We will ensure that your child is referred to other agencies to enable continued support for any ongoing need, for example, physiotherapy or speech and language therapy.

We support families for children aged birth to five years until they start full time education. The request will be reviewed by the EYCN Service Lead, ESATs and team leads. If the child’s needs meet the EYCN Service criteria, they will be allocated to a pathway of support.

These can include one of the following pathways, or a combination of pathways.

Setting support pathway

The EYCN Service will work with parents and the child’s setting (nursery, pre-school, childminder) to support inclusion and continuity of approaches. EYCN practitioners (EYCNP) work in partnership with setting staff to support all areas of the child’s development. ESATs contribute to the special education needs and disabilities (SEND) process, transitions into settings and schools, including advice on requesting Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

EYCNPs work in partnership with the setting and parents or carers to identify needs and outcomes through a baseline developmental assessment and to support settings to access appropriate advice, support and individualised strategies.

As part of the reviews we will consider if our community or home support pathway is best able to meet the child needs and if the outcomes have been achieved.

Community support pathway

The EYCN Service can support families to access community groups. Families can be referred to groups delivered by children’s centres, including step by step groups; these groups focus on supporting children with a disability.

Families can also attend groups led by the EYCN Service. We also offer family events during school holidays, for example, soft play sessions, park days and groups in children’s centres.

EYCNPs work in partnership with parents or carers to identify needs and outcomes, through a baseline developmental assessment, to support families to access appropriate support groups such as:

  • step by step groups
  • EYCN Service groups
  • local community groups

As part of the reviews we will consider whether our home support or setting pathway is best able to meet the child needs and if the outcomes have been achieved.

Home support pathway

The purpose of the home support pathway is to provide home visits where the child’s skills can be developed. EYCNPs work in partnership with parents or carers using the portage model to:

  • identify needs and outcomes, through a baseline developmental assessment
  • review progress made to support all areas of the child’s development through structured and child led play and a family focus time

As part of the reviews we will consider if ongoing support is necessary or whether our community support or setting pathway is best able to meet the child needs.

Who can refer

Referrals can come from:

  • any health, social care or education professional working with the child or family (or both)
  • parents or carers
  • early years settings – following discussion with their early years consultant and evidence of a graduated response.

Supporting documents

It is important that we have necessary documents in order to process requests for services. We are unable to process requests without all relevant documentation and will close requests after two weeks where these have not be provided.

We will need:

  • a completed request for support form
  • an early years setting report for all children currently attending a setting (including childminders)
  • evidence of a significant and complex delay in two developmental areas which must include detailed evidence of significant cognitive delay (see criteria above)
  • evidence of how professionals have tried to target areas of delay in the community, for example, 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

How to refer

All referrals to the service must be made though our online form.


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