On Wednesday 26 March 2014, despite the school strike, Chair of Parent Carer Voice welcomed over 30 Parent Carers gathered at the Great Western Railway Club to find out how the new Children and Families Act 2014 will affect the way we do things in Herefordshire.
The new law, which received Royal Assent on 14 March, will change the way in which children and young people aged 0 – 25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are assessed and supported. From September, the Children and Families Act 2014 expects:
- a single assessment process across education, health and care for children with SEN
- Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Plans to replace statements of SEN
- all children with an EHC Plan will have the right to a personal budget
- a ‘Local Offer’ where children & families with an SEN can find out about the services available to support them, a sort of one-stop-shop for all a families support needs
- Local authorities and the NHS will be expected to jointly commission services for children with SEN.
Exactly how the new law will operate will depend on the wording of the new ‘SEN Code of Practice’ that is due to be published in June 2014 and will take effect from September. Until the new version is published, the current ‘SEN Code of Practice’ still applies.
Like other areas, Herefordshire is busy getting things ready for September. The Act states that each Local Authority has to develop its own Education Health & Care Plan so the look of EHC plans will vary from area to area.
The same will be even truer of the Local Offer, which needs to reflect the range of support, information, activities that are available across Herefordshire including how to access them.
The Local Offer should go wider than just listing what services the Council has to offer. Schools in particular will be expected to develop their own ‘local offer’. Herefordshire has posted its first local offer pages on its website at the end of March and will be adding information and comments from Parent Carers as things evolve.
The Government also expects to see a change in culture across the public sector. It expects Health and Local Authorities to work closely together, and in partnership with Parent Carers and children. Parent Carers who attended the Information Event were invited to join several working groups to develop the Herefordshire EHC Plan and our ‘Local Offer’.
Short-breaks – (respite) are a big part of the ‘Local Offer’. Herefordshire has already re-commissioned this service. Most of the main short-break providers attended the Information Day, these included Crossroads Care, Core Assets, and Mencap.
Local arrangements for Transition to adulthood, Post 16 training and education were set out by Alexia Heath. The trend is for more young people to want to remain in Herefordshire so that they can be near their families.
The HUB at Barrs Court is very popular and has been a big success, but it only takes young people up to the age of 19. A small pilot which took 3 young people with SEN who are 19+ began last year and a report has gone to Cabinet.
‘Children with Disability’ Social Work Team has been reinvigorated through the appointment of a new team of specialist social workers and family support workers. The team is working hard to make sure that every family has an assessment and that all the casework is up to date.
The team is also working with colleagues on the plans of Personal Budgets for families. Parent Carers left a long list of questions to be considered. Here are a few examples:
- Can you get respite without having to have a social worker?
- How will I know if I can get a Health Budget?
- Medical support – will it come under EHC plan? Or what will it come under?
- What can my child do with his PA this Saturday?
- How do we get help for moving from college to apprenticeships?
The full list can be down loaded below along with the three presentations:
Thank you to everyone who attended, or took part in the Parent Carer Information event.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
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