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EHCP Improvements

Finding your way around the EHCP process can be a confusing experience for parents. We have been looking at ways to make this easier to understand and help parents know where to go to get support. Some of the improvements we have made so far include:

  • In partnership with Herts Parent Carer Involvement (HPCI) we have revised and redesigned the letters that are sent during various stages of the EHC assessment. The re-drafted letters have been tested with parents who told us that the templates have certainly improved and are now “down to earth”, “friendly”, “supportive” and “had an air of sincerity”. These should start landing on parents doorsteps sometime soon. You can read more about this on our 'improving EHCP letters' blog.
  • SENDIASS have developed a series of online webinars, delivered in partnership with HPCI. The webinars aim to give families clear information and advice to support them to be better informed about the EHC Needs Assessment, planning and review processes. The webinars focus on providing information about the law, local Hertfordshire processes and empowering families to achieve the best possible outcomes. The webinars cover the whole EHCP process from applying for an assessment to the first annual review and they include opportunities for questions to be answered live by a member of the SENDIASS team. You can book the SENDIASS webinars through the HPCI website. You can also choose to watch a recording of a webinar.
  • We have implemented a new computer system for the statutory SEND team which now allows more opportunity for information sharing, as well as reducing administrative overheads. This new computer system will also play an important role in the EHCP improvement projects we’re working on this year.
  • As a result of feedback from both parents and schools, children are now assessed for Complex Needs funding (previously Exceptional Needs funding) as part of the EHCP process. The criteria for this funding will be based on the new banding descriptors (which have been developed with the involvement of HPCI). You can find a more detailed explanation of the planned changes on our Changes to Exceptional Needs Funding webpage.

New Local Offer website 
and social media channels

We worked with parents, carers and SEND professionals to co-produce a brand new Local Offer website.

Our resources area on the site is populated with useful online and printable activities to help develop your child's skills.

Our events tool is live and is updated with events and activities for children and young people with SEND and their families. 

We have increased our activity on social media and made our SEND newsletter more frequent and easier to read on mobile devices, because you told us you find it useful to receive information in this way.

We are working more closely with partners across education, health and social care to make sure we share the right information with you at the right time.

We created the SEND Online Feedback Group so we could work with families on all of our content and make sure that we always have our users' needs at the forefront of everything we do


SENDIASS

Getting the right information and advice is important.

SENDIASS has gathered feedback from service users and has listened to what families say they need.

SENDIASS has refined and updated the information and advice offered to parents. Some recent developments include:

  • Creating one single point of access - our helpline - meaning that parents always know where to go for info, advice and support. We've improved this ‘triage’ system so that we now offer a helpline answered more quickly and high priority calls are managed in a timely manner. 
  • We have developed and increased the bank of resources for families to access on our website.
  • We have developed resources for parents and young people around exclusions and tribunals, with the aim of helping them to feel more informed about these processes and have their voice heard.
  • We were contacted by more parents than ever before over the past 12 months as families were struggling during the pandemic, so we recruited and trained more staff.


Preparing for Adulthood

As part of our ongoing commitment to co-production, we had 2 ‘Experts by Experience’ join the programme team in July 2020.  Our Experts by Experience are young people with SEND, who have direct experience of services in Hertfordshire and are supporting us with decision making and shaping Preparing for Adulthood content.

We have recently reviewed and refreshed our PFA webpages on the Local Offer website in order to provide clearer, more honest and helpful support to young people and their families during this important transition.  The pages now contain essential information on health, legal issues, education, employment, independent living and transport. You can read more about the changes we have made to these pages in our Preparing for Adulthood - Improving our Online Content blog.


SEND Transport

Personal travel budgets

Our SEND transport team launched personal travel budgets, to improve options for children and young people and their families. Personal Travel Budgets (PTBs) help families to manage more flexible travel arrangements. They help young adults develop their independence, as they can use public transport and learn important independent travel skills. Our team wants to help families start building in these skills early, to set them up for a more independent adult life.

Making moves easier

The SEND transport team have done some work to make the process clearer for families moving into or out of the county. It can be a complex process, with uncertainty about which local authority is responsible for transport. The Local Offer page has information about what families should do before they move to ensure changes can be processed as early as possible.  The legal team has helped to draft a policy which confirms which local authority is legally responsible for home to school transport during a move.

Improving transport provision for part time timetables

Part-time timetables have in the past caused some complications with providing SEND transport, as the team had to take a reactive approach to transport for part-time timetables, that were arranged on very short notice. This was leading to unnecessary stress for SEND families, and additional costs to HCC.

The SEND team have developed their processes around part-time timetables and created the following benefits:

  • The SEN Team are involved in discussions with the school and ultimately must agree all part-time timetables
  • Parent/carers are equal partners in decision making and must also agree/sign onto the part-time timetable
  • Transport will now only be funded (if the child is eligible for transport) if the timetable has been agreed according to the new process and the school provide evidence of the tri-partite agreement 
  • The part-time timetable can only last up to 6 weeks, after which the pupil returns to full-time education, or reviewed by the SEND team, school/college and parent/carer. 

The aim is to reduce the number of part-time timetables and, where they are needed, ensure pupils are not kept on them for too long. 

Find out more about SEND Home to School Transport here.


Social care - Families First

Families First partners, who provide early help family support, often support families with children and young people with SEND. However, partners struggle to keep up to date with what SEND services are available locally and how to help families access them. A SEND practitioner worked alongside these partners to help them learn more about identifying and meeting SEND needs in families communities, for example making better use of services such as Short Breaks Local Offer. Partners worked together with HPCI to produce an 'Early Help SEND navigation tool' to help early help professionals quickly find answers to SEND related questions, enabling them to better support families with children and young people with SEND.  

Send us your comments, feedback or questions SENDstrategy@hertfordshire.gov.uk

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