Improved support for special needs in West Sussex

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C140029-4 County Hall phot kate''County Hall.C140029-4 ENGSUS00120140701135244

CHILDREN and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families, are to have greater control and choice over the support they receive.

West Sussex County Council is working closely with parents and carers to prepare for the reforms which affect children and young people from newborn to 25 years old.

The changes will come into effect in September 2014 as part of the government’s Children and Families Act.

Peter Evans, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for children –start of life, said: “The upcoming changes are a positive step for families whose children have special educational needs or disabilities.

“The aim is to put them firmly at the heart of the process, and to ensure they feel included and informed every step of the way while plans are put in place to ensure their child has the best possible start in life.”

For many, the current system is confusing, and does not offer the information they need to choose the best services.

They also have to navigate each area of their support, such as education, health and social care, separately.

The reforms will see a new single assessment process introduced for children with the most complex needs.

Services will work with families to agree these straightforward plans, which will bring together all elements of their support, and 
be regularly reviewed 
to ensure it is meeting the child or young person’s needs.

In some cases, the new plans could run until 25 years of age – the current statements stop at 19.

Local authorities must also publish a ‘Local Offer’, which contains full details of the complete range of services available to families in the 
local area.

The council, in partnership with the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, has produced a leaflet which sets out the upcoming changes and what will be available through the Local Offer.

Copies are available from GP surgeries, libraries and the county council’s Children and Family Centres across West Sussex.

They can also be requested through the Parent Partnership Service helpline on 0845 075 1008.