HPCI Member Update 21 July 2022

Welcome to the last HPCI newsletter of this academic year.  It has been another challenging one for many people, so I hope that you and your family are able to get some rest in over the next few weeks.  As ever, thank you to everyone who has shared their views and experiences with us, and thank you to our volunteer parent carer reps who do such valuable work in sharing these with the people who make decisions about services for children and young people with SEND in Hertfordshire.

This newsletter covers a wide range of topics including:

  • The Green Paper consultation and HPCI’s submission, plus a consultation on ECHP annual review timescales
  • HCC’s SEND scrutiny report
  • Inclusive Employment – a new service for Herts residents with a learning or physical disability, mental health condition, sensory need or neurodiversity
  • A new video on Autism / ADHD support in Hertfordshire
  • Herts Wheelchair service parent / carer group
  • Down Syndrome Act guidance
  • HOPE Study Research on the impact of SEND provision on health outcomes.

The SEND Green Paper consultation and HPCI’s submission, plus a consultation on ECHP annual review timescales

The Government’s consultation on the proposals it has set out in the SEND and Alternative Provision green paper closes tomorrow, Friday 22 July at 23:45.  If you have not already put in a response, and you have the capacity to do so, I would really encourage you to add your voice – a number of the proposals have the potential to have a significant impact on the support children and young people with SEND receive.  If you want to see the response that we have submitted, you can access this here.

Also, a quick reminder that the consultation about extending the time within which local authorities are required to issue proposals for amending an existing EHCP will be closing over the summer (on 12 August).  HPCI will be submitting a response but would encourage families to do so too, if you can.  Local authorities already regularly miss statutory deadlines and we think that extending the period will only have a negative impact on getting timely support to children and young people with SEND. You can submit a response here.

HCC’s SEND scrutiny report

You may remember in our last newsletter that we mentioned a meeting of the Hertfordshire County Council’s SEND Topic Group.  This is where a group of Hertfordshire councillors, who are not part of the HCC Cabinet, review the decisions that the council makes in order to hold the Cabinet to account.  Their report has now been published, and contains recommendations covering:

  • Improved induction, support and training for the HCC Statutory SEND team (to ensure that staff provide consistent and accurate advice to parents and professionals).
  • Improving the relationship with parents, with greater transparency in communication, and meaningful involvement of parents in service design and consultation.
  • A culture shift needed in the manner of communication, the channels used, its timeliness and accuracy.
  • Appropriate and consistent advice being given to parents (and professionals working with families) in line with the legislation and the SEN code of practice.

We are really pleased that families have been listened to through this process and we hope to see significant progress against each of these recommendations (which will be reported on next March at the Impact of Scrutiny Advisory Committee).

Inclusive Employment

HCC, via the European Social Fund, has secured part-funding for an Inclusive Employment project.  This service aims to help people with a learning or physical disability, mental health condition, sensory need or neurodiversity into employment, education or training by providing them support via a job coach.  If you are interested in finding out more, there is further information here.

A new video on Autism / ADHD support in Hertfordshire

new video has been produced which helps explain the support available in Hertfordshire for autistic children and young people and those with ADHD (diagnosed or exploring the possibility).  HPCI parent/carer representatives were able to feed in their views on what the video should cover, and we hope it will be useful for families in Herts.

As well as feeding into this project, HPCI reps have also been working on a project to address the waiting times for assessment for Autism and ADHD, which is an issue that we have been raising for many years. Reps are also involved in work to design and implement a new diagnostic pathway for Autism and ADHD, as well as the development of a new Neurodiversity Hub, which aims to improve the support offer for children and young people who are (or may be) neurodivergent, and their families.

Herts Wheelchair service parent / carer group

If you are the parent or carer of a child or young person who uses the Hertfordshire Wheelchair Service, we have been asked to pass on an invite to take part in a small online group discussion on 10 August (7-8pm).  The purpose of the group is to:

  1. Listen to the feedback of children, young people, parents and carers to better meet their needs.
  2. Improve communications between families, Millbrook Healthcare and other professionals to meet the needs of users more effectively.
  3. Promote understanding of how the wheelchair service works to reduce problems and delays.

Please email HertsCHEO@millbrookhealthcare.co.uk if you are interested in joining the meeting.

Down Syndrome Act guidance

The Government has issued a “call for evidence”, asking for views on what should be included in the statutory guidance that will underpin the Down Syndrome Act.  If you would like to contribute to this or find out more, further information is here.

HOPE Study Research on the impact of SEND provision on health outcomes.

Finally, families may want to take part in the HOPE (Health Outcomes for young People throughout Education) study, which is investigating the impact of SEND provision on health outcomes for children and young people in England. This project is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the University College London and will investigate who receives SEND provision, when, what type, for how long and the user experiences of this provision at the Local Authority level across England.

If you (or your child / young person) want to take part in this work, the research team has launched surveys for both children and young people with SEND (which takes 10 minutes), and for parents/carers (which takes 20 minutes).  These surveys can be accessed here and you can find more information on the study here.