The Children and Families Act explained – part 1 …

New laws to improve services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

From September 2014, there will be a number of changes to improve services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The changes are a result of the Children and Families Act 2014 which became law on the 13 March 2014.

The Act aims to make education, health and social care services more ‘joined up’ for children and young people with complex needs and their families, so that they only have to ‘tell their story once’. This will include changes to how children and young people with the most complex needs have their needs assessed and how plans are made to meet those needs. Current statements of SEN will be replaced with Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans, which will still be legally binding like statements are, but will look at all the child or young person’s needs across their education, their health and their social development, all in one place. These new plans will also be available for those aged up to 25 in education or training in some cases, which is an extension from the current age limit of 19.

The Act also aims to make it easier for families to get good information about services and support in their local area. All local authorities (councils) will have to publish details of the ‘Local Offer’ of services available to families, so that they know what support they are entitled to across education, health and social care.

The new laws will also give families more choice and control about the services they access, and more opportunities to get involved in planning services for the future.

The changes are a great opportunity to help make Leeds a child friendly city for those children and young people who have SEND and need additional support to learn, enjoy life and grow up to achieve their best possible outcomes.

You can find out more about how partners across education, health and social care are working with parents and carers and children and young people with SEND to make the new laws happen here in Leeds on our webpage at www.leeds.gov.uk/SENDreforms

You can also check our updates on this blog, where we will be looking at some of the changes that the new law will bring in more detail. Partners who are working on the changes will introduce themselves and talk about the changes.

To find out more or get involved, contact the best practice team via bpteam@leeds.gov.uk. We can visit groups of practitioners, parents/cares or children and young people to tell you about the changes and gather your views about them. We can also provide leaflets and posters.

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