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Help, Care and Support

Some children and young people (aged 0 - 25) with special educational needs (SEN) may have disabilities or other needs which mean they require support from social care services. Depending on the age of the child or young person these services may be provided by children’s social care services or adults social care services

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Together for Children and Sunderland City Council cannot recommend or endorse any providers or services listed.  Please read our full disclaimer here.

We have provided some information below which you may find useful:  

Sunderland SEN Information Pack - Social Care

Together for Children Sunderland have designed a booklet to assist parents/carers of disabled children and young people.  The booklet contains general information, advice and guidance around all aspects of support available to children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.

The booklet is split into categories that mainly follow the categories within the Local Offer.  A copy of the Social Care section is attached.

A copy of the whole booklet can be found on the SEN Information Pack Advice and Guidance page, where you can download a copy if required.  

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

If you have a child or young person with SEN (they have a learning difficulty or disability) they may sometimes require a level of support that is more intensive than the resources usually available in their school.  In such a case, you or your child's school could consider asking the Local Authority to undertake an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which could lead to your child receiving an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?
An EHCP brings together your child's education, health and social care needs into a single plan which is a legal document. Your child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan. 

An Education, Health and Care Plan will describe the needs of the child or young person, the services required to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement.  It will be developed in partnership with you and your child or young person and will be carried out within 20 weeks of the needs assessment.

How do I apply for an EHC Plan?
A parent or young person would need to submit a written request to the Local Authority asking for a formal assessment to be carried out.  The written request will need to contain information about which agencies are currently involved in working with the child or young person.   

Who decides whether a child needs an EHC Plan?
The Local Authority will make the decision as to whether a child or young person needs an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’.  The process leading to this decision will however be shorter (maximum 20 weeks) and more child/young person and family-focussed.   

Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment

In most cases the request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment will come from a school or education setting.  However, requests do not have to come from a school or education setting and can be made by:

  1. The child's parents (or somebody on their behalf)
  2. The young person if over the age of 16 (or somebody on their behalf)
  3. A person acting on behalf of an early years setting, school or post 16 institution (this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible.

In addition, anyone can inform the local authority about a child or young person who has (or may have) SEND. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Again, this should be done with the knowledge and agreement of parents or the young person where possible.

For more information see the Advice and Guidance page - "Requesting an Education, Health and Care Assessment".

What if the LA decides that an EHC plan is not necessary?

If, following assessment, the local authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary, it must inform the parents or young person, the early years provider, school or post 16 institution currently attended and the health service, and give the reasons for its decision.  This must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having been brought to the authority's attention. The local authority must also tell the parents or young person that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision and set out the time limits for appeal, and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.

If you would like to find out more information regarding the whole process you can find the Code of Practice at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25

What if I disagree with the local authority's decision about EHC plans?

Disagreement Resolution - most disagreements can be resolved by talking with the early years setting, school or local authority.  If you need more help with this you can contact Sunderland SEND IASS Sunderland Carers Centre 0191 549 3768.

Mediation - is a voluntary process for parents and young people, which can be used if agreement cannot be reached about matters related to EHC plans.

SEND Tribunal - is an independent First-Tier Tribunal who hears parents' or young peoples' appeals against decisions of the local authority in relation to special educational needs.

For more information on all of the above see Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunal services.

What is a Personal Budget?

Sometimes families need to access additional support for their child - this extra support might include:

  • Additional support from education to ensure that a child's learning needs are met
  • Additional support from Health where a child has a complex, long-term and/or life limiting condition
  • Additional support from social care where a child needs additional and individual support at home, or where the family need a short break from caring, or where support is needed so that the child and the family can have the same experiences as other families

A personal budget may help you find alternative solutions that you may feel supports your child/young person better.  This can be by purchasing existing services or by developing new and imaginative ways of using the money.

Instead of a family being provided with a service, a budget is identified and work takes place to plan how this can best be used to meet the child or family’s needs.  A parent/carer of a child, young person or adult up to 25 years old with an EHC plan can request a personal budget.

There are 4 ways that a personal budget can be delivered:

  1. Notational budget No money changes hands.  Services are arranged on the family’s behalf by the Local Authority or Health Service
  2. Direct Payment Money is paid directly to the  young person/family and they pay for their agreed support where this funding has been identified in the plan
  3. Third party arrangement A third party organisation, trust or nominated person holds the money and pays for agreed services on behalf of the young person
  4. A combination of the above

Personal budgets are optional and parents and carers or the child or young person can continue to have services provided in the current way. 

Personal budgets are not means tested so parents who work can still opt to have a personal budget for their child / young person.  If the young person is over 18, and a part of the budget comes from Social Care then the family may have to make a financial contribution.  This should be discussed with your Social Worker. 

Visit the Personal Budget Advice and Guidance page for more information.  The page also contains policy, guidance and application documents which you can download.

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