1 I believe billions of pounds of cuts are being made to Children's Services predicated on the fact that people find it almost impossible to access support they are entitled to and complaints/appeals processes are so difficult to negotiate that many give up. All understand this including professionals so there is no point getting angry or frustrated with individual social workers or others who have to implement these (illegal?) policies that run contrary to the principals of The Children Act 1989 and subsequent legislation. Please also see Are you a Parent/Carer with a Learning Disability?
The key things are :- - to find out what you/your child are entitled to, This site is a good place to start. - be politely persistent, - become very good at paperwork/record keeping and - keep all relationships/interactions 'professional'.
2. Do not speak badly about individual professionals and do not become antagonistic or difficult to deal with at a personal level - it destroys your credibility. A social worker is not your friend or your enemy. They have almost no resources to help you or your family - their focus is your child with difficulties and unless you are very lucky, they are unlikely to know much about autism other than 'the triad of Impairments'. They may minimise your difficulties and/or your parenting capacity - again this is not personal although it may feel very unfair. There are some resources here for social care professionals to make them aware of the rights of disabled children and their families and it is worth referring to them particularly in any correspondence in a matter-of-fact way.
3. See also this blog that explains how, when it comes to children with SEN-D all the focus is on Educational need and there are difficulties accessing help for children have SEN related complex health and social care needs. One of the issues is that by the time services take notice, families may be in a deep crisis requiring much more extensive and expensive help than would originally have been the case. Also issues that may result from stresses on family life when a family is caring for a disabled family member for a long time without appropriate support, may get intertwined with others e.g. poor parental mental health or debt as just two examples. Some families is this situation may be subject to Care proceedings. I believe that if you are involved in Court proceedings, you should try and get the best legal support available and work very closely with your solicitor to ensure that the Court is made aware of all the issues including earlier requests for support and any associated reports. If these get 'missed' in the Court case, there is almost no way to re-open cases unless there is a change in circumstances plus there is no right to free legal representation for parents who lose their child to the Care system in any subsequent proceedings. This is a great blog on how to work with a legal team in these circumstances - It’s not my job to believe you – here’s why.
4. Many local authorities have introduced 'a funding panel' system so decisions will be made by people who have never met you or your family. My son's case 'went to panel' three times that I know of and social worker's recommendations for support 'knocked back'. To the credit of his social work team they just kept re-submitting until an appropriate package was finally approved. He was in Care so the issues around waiting for decisions were not quite so critical as they might be for a family in crisis 'at the edge of Care'.
5. This site is a good place to start to understand processes.
7 Sample letters can be downloaded here (disability related) and here (family and friend's carers)
8 Entitled SEND Disagreement Resolution - When People Can't Agree - A Guide for Young People in Education, it's a guide for young people on how to resolve SEND disagreements at school or college. You can download the publication here.
9. If you're interested in increasing learning about EHCP experiences and best practice, visit the EHCP Journeys website