HPCI Member Update 16 December 2022

For the last newsletter of 2022, we are looking forward to 2023, as Hertfordshire is likely to have a local area SEND Inspection in the new year.  This is a really important visit that will examine the services that support our children and young people, and set the direction for improvement in future years. HPCI will have a key role as the official Hertfordshire Parent Carer Forum. There are more details below, including how you can give your views and how HPCI will be feeding in the family voice.

Our update also covers the topics below – scroll down to find out more

  • Emerging findings from the first HPCI annual SEND survey
  • A new service for Hertfordshire Direct Payment holders
  • Consultation on a New Communication and Autism School
  • Healthwatch Hertfordshire Cost of Living Crisis survey
  • Christmas activities (including HAPpy camps)

Hertfordshire to have an area SEND inspection in 2023?

A Local area SEND inspection is when Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) and CQC (the Care Quality Commission which inspects health and social care) jointly inspect local areas to see how well they fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Ofsted and CQC have just announced their new framework for inspecting local areas. It is likely Hertfordshire will be one of the first inspections, as Herts was one of the first areas inspected under the previous framework back in 2016.

How can you feed in your opinions on Herts services?

When the inspection is announced, families and children / young people can offer their views via an Ofsted survey.  As soon as this happens, HPCI will email all members to let you know that the survey is open.  Please do fill it in as soon as this happens – the survey may only be open for six days.

What will HPCI be doing?

As your parent carer forum, we will meet with the inspectors at the start of the inspection to help shape its scope and focus.  HCC and its health partners will be asked to provide a self-evaluation and details about their strategic planning.  HPCI will also be asked for views on this and will be using what you told us in our recent annual SEND survey (see below).

If you want to know more about the detail of the new Inspection Framework, these are available here and if you have any questions about this, please do let me know.

Emerging findings from the first HPCI annual SEND survey

Thank you so much to everyone who gave their views in our recent survey.  We received 1,140 responses, which is truly amazing and we really appreciate each one.

The responses covered a wide range of topics, but there were some clear messages about families’ frustration with services and knowing what help is available and how to find it.  A few headlines:

  • Families said the top five services needing improvement were 1) EHCPs, 2) SEN officers, 3) CAMHS, 4) Therapies and 5) PALMs.
  • Families are concerned about how services work together – 59% of those who said they need support from more than one service said they thought that joint working was poor or very poor, with comments including being “passed between services” and parents having to facilitate communication between services themselves.
  • Well over half of families who said that they had looked for information about how to get help, and what support services are available, reported that they found it difficult or very difficult to find.

We will be publishing a full report in 2023, but have already started discussions with HCC, so that they understand the views of families and where you have told us that improvements are most needed.

A new service for Hertfordshire Direct Payment holders

The Direct Payment Support Service is a new service launching in January to help anyone who receives a Direct Payment (DP) from Hertfordshire County Council.  The existing service has been expanded to include a register of Personal Assistants for children, in response to feedback from families about difficulties finding PAs. All families who receive a DP should have received a letter with more details – if you have not, please contact CYPSENDBrokerage@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Consultation on a New Communication and Autism School

HCC hopes to open a new Communication & Autism School, the James Marks Academy, in September 2024 in Welwyn Garden City.  There is also a proposal for some early places to be available on the existing Roman Fields site in Hemel Hempstead from September 2023.  The new school and early spaces are subject to consultation and views on this can be given here via a short survey.  We think that this is a positive step – the lack of special school places across a range of needs is something that we are in constant conversation with the local authority about, so please do have a look. The survey closes on 13 January 2023.

Healthwatch Hertfordshire Cost of Living Crisis survey

We know that the current cost of living crisis is impacting on all families, but especially those who have disabled children – a recent study by the charity Contact reported that over a third (39%) of families with seriously ill and disabled children have cut back or stopped using essential disability equipment due to rising energy costs.

Healthwatch Hertfordshire have recently launched a cost of living crisis survey, to help local services decide how, and where, their support and services are most needed.  To share your views, click here.  For cost of living advice, the Contact website has some helpful tips and tools: Cost of living advice

Christmas activities (including HAPpy camps)

Finally, if you are looking for activities over the Christmas holidays and beyond, our fantastic voluntary and community service organisations have lots on offer.  You can search for events on the Local Offer. If your child is in receipt of Free School Meals, HAPpy Activity Camps are running across the county.

Whatever you are up to, all of us at HPCI would like to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas.