Disability Access Fund

Funding to support disabled children’s access to the entitlements for three and four year olds

Information provided by the Department for Education (DfE) about the Disability Access Funding can be found in the Early Years entitlements operational guide.

The operational guide indicates that the funds could be used, for example, to support providers in making reasonable adjustments to their settings and/or helping with building capacity, be that for the child in question or for the benefit of children as a whole attending the setting.

There is currently no specified guidance about auditing the use of this funding though we would advise settings to keep clear records and accounts of how they have used the funding for auditing purposes, and where this benefits an individual child. You should also record this in the child's record.


3 and 4 year olds will be eligible for the DAF if they meet the following criteria:

  • the child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and
  • the child accesses the funded entitlement at the Early Years Provider (universal 15 hours)

Four-year olds in primary school reception classes are not eligible for DAF funding. Children become eligible for free early education at different points in the year depending on when they turn three.


The settings of three and four year olds eligible for the DAF will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £800 per year. The DAF is not based on an hourly rate and is an additional entitlement.

Children do not have to take up the full 570 hours of early education they are entitled to in order to receive the DAF. Children in receipt of the DAF will be eligible where they take-up any period of free entitlement. However, if a child eligible for DAF is splitting their free entitlement across two or more providers, only one provider will be able to claim the whole amount. Parents are asked to nominate the main provider on their parent declaration form.

Identifying eligible children

Early years providers are ultimately responsible for identifying eligible children. We encourage you to speak to parents in order to find out who is eligible for the DAF and parents will be required to provide evidence such as the child’s DLA award letter. 

Provider application process

To apply for the Disability Access Fund through the Capita Portal please see the attached guidance.