Mencap Children’s Centre provides a unique funded early years’ service for children aged 2-3 years with significant developmental delay.

The programme offers play, therapy and care in the child’s penultimate pre-school year, supporting that important transition to nursery school.

The service would not be possible without the partnership with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) and the team of allied health professionals that work alongside Mencap’s Early Years team and Family Support team to provide a holistic, caring approach for children with learning disability and their families.

52 spaces are allocated each year for children aged 2 by the 1 July of the year of entry and live in either the Belfast or South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust areas.

How to apply

Application for this service begins each January and referrals are made by health and social care workers that are currently supporting your child.

To be eligible your child must be in receipt of a minimum of two therapies, such as a Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy and considered to have significant developmental delay.

For more information on our selection criteria and how to apply please get in touch with us on 028 9069 1351 or email .

Play, Therapy and Care

The Mencap Children’s Centre aims to provide a stimulating, caring and therapeutic play environment, working in a multi-disciplinary approach.

This includes the Mencap Early Years Team, the Family Support Team and the Belfast Health Trust therapists.

The key workers for your child will offer care and learning through play and therapy opportunities to ensure they can reach their potential outcomes. 

Our staff will use a variety of strategies and evidence based approaches including Attention Autism , Elklan, Tac Pac, PECs, Makaton and TEACCH that meets your child’s individual learning needs.

The Early Years team

The qualified and dedicated Early Years Team work to observe and assess your child. Each child is provide with a set of learning goals and this is supported using the evidence-based HighScope approach.

Incorporating this early childhood care and education curriculum we identify your child’s strengths, interests, abilities and plan their sessions to ensure a stimulating and enjoyable environment.

You will be invited to attend parent-keyworker consultations throughout the year. We will provide you with updates and regular reports on how your child is progressing, advising on what we are currently working on with your child. We also really value your input in this.

The Therapy team

A team of fantastic Belfast Health Trust therapists including physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists are based at the Mencap Children’s Centre. They will carry out assessments with your child and will agree with you a care plan.

This is continually reviewed and will be incorporated into your child’s weekly sessions at the centre. Your child’s key worker will support your child to achieve their goals through a programme of play, therapy and care.

Families also have a big part to play in their child’s development. The therapy team will organize and deliver parent training workshops throughout the year to support you with your child’s needs.

Special events at Mencap Centre

We invite family and friends to join us to celebrate children's talents at our special events.


All families and friends are invited to join us for our nativity performances in December. Each child has their own part to play in the nativity story, making it a very special occasion.


The children work hard throughout their year and our end of year graduation recognises and celebrates their individual efforts. Another very special day.

Finn at Mencap Children's Centre Nativity


Supporting parents

Mencap Centre is a family-friendly place and is as much for the parents and families as it is for the children using the early years’ service.  We know that many parents will still be adjusting to the fact their child may have a lifelong disability and that this can be an emotional and challenging time, so we operate an ‘open door' policy in order to provide you with as much support and advice as possible.

Parent and keyworker meeting

Alongside our ‘open door’ policy, up to 3 times per year you will be invited by your child’s key worker to attend a parent – keyworker meeting. We will update you with how your child is progressing and will provide you with a short report. At the end of the year will send on a final report to your child’s chosen nursery school to support their transition.

Paediatric Clinics

Parents  will be invited by their paeditricians to bring their child to the Mencap Centre for their review clinics. During this visit your child will be assessed by the therapists and the consultant paediatrician. You will have the opportunity to discuss your child’s progress with each of these professionals.  It is an ideal opportunity for you to raise any issues that concern you and for us to find out if there's anything else we can do for you.

Makaton training

Makaton is the main form of communication for a considerable number of children in the centre. Our speech and language therapists provide excellent support in the use of Makaton in the early years’ service and also provide training for parents and siblings so that you can communicate with your child at home and help develop their communication skills further.

Outdoor play days

We recognise the importance of outdoor play for all children and the benefits to their development. Outdoor play is included in all your child’s sessions at the centre but each month we will plan for 1 session to be outdoors. The children enjoy the access to our beautiful gardens and play areas.

For more information on our Children's Centre please email or telephone 028 9069 1351.

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