Ten local authorities from across England are set to work with a group of leading disability charities to make it easier for families with children who have SEN to find and use their local education, health and social services.
The way people access education, health and care services is changing. The Government has put increased focus on “personalisation” and the draft Children and Families Bill sets out its plans to give all families of children and young people with SEN an education, health and care plan and the option of accessing a personal budget.
However, research carried out by the eight disability charities – known collectively as the SEND Consortium – showed that the majority of families with disabled children remain unaware of personal budgets or don’t know how to use them effectively.
“Helping children and young people with SEND and their families receive the right services at the right time is key but it is clear that under the current system personal budgets are not being used effectively”, says Jolanta Lasota, a spokesperson for the SEND Consortium. “At the same time, more needs to be done to help local service providers successfully promote what they can offer and understand more about the needs of children and young people with SEND in their area.”
As a result, the Consortium has enlisted the ten councils to help produce and pilot SENDirect, a brokerage service that aims to help improve understanding, and use and access to personal budgets for families with disabled children in the area.
The ten Local Authorities working with the Consortium on the project are: Bexley, Cornwall, Coventry, Solihull, Oldham, Gateshead, Leicestershire, Essex, Herefordshire, and Telford and Wrekin. The SENDirect project is funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Education. The Consortium plans to pilot SENDirect with the ten local authorities before a planned launch in March 2015.