My name is Val Waite and I’m the manager of the best practice team in the complex needs service. Our team is working on the Leeds local offer.
The Leeds local offer is all about making it easier for people in our city to find information about services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
There are about 180, 000 children and young people in Leeds. Around 2,000 of them have what we call ‘complex needs’, which means they need a lot of support to help them learn, develop and take part in their community. There are also many more across the city who may not have very complex needs, but do need some level of support to achieve the best they can in their health, education and social life.
In the past, it has sometimes been quite hard for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND to find out what support they can access in their local area, and how to get it. For children and young people who want to get information for themselves, it has often been even more difficult to find information they can access easily.
In March this year, new legislation was passed to change that. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires local authorities (Councils) and our partners in health, education and social care services to provide information about all local services for children and young people with SEND aged 0-25, in one place. This is called ‘the Local Offer’.
This information must all be in one website. It must also be made available in different ways for people who don’t use websites. It must be easy for to children and young people with SEND to use, as well as their parents and carers.
The local offer isn’t just about providing a list of services and telephone numbers. It must make it clear to families what services and support they are entitled to access, and how to access them. It must cover a wide range of services, including:
- Education: support from all early years education settings, all schools, and all colleges and training providers in Leeds. Every school must also publish details of their individual offer of support
- Health: services available and how to access them
- Social care: support from social care services, including childcare and short breaks that give children and young people something fun to do while their parents and carers have a break.
- Getting ready for adult life: support to help young people to prepare for adulthood, for example independent and supported living, job seeking and carers advice.
- And much more, including transport, support groups and leisure activities.
We must also make the local offer website a place where children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers can comment on the offer of services in their area, including details of any ‘gaps’ where they cannot find a service to meet their needs.
We must publish these comments on the website. We must also publish details of how we and our partners across education, health and social care will take the comments into account as we develop services.
The new legislation says that the local offer must be ‘co-produced’, which means that it should be produced by the council working together with all our partners including parents and carers and children and young people. Working closely with all the people who will be affected by the local offer, right from the start, helps us make sure we get it right for them.
In our next blog entry, we will describe how we have been working together with all partners in Leeds and how our local offer is taking shape.
To find out more about, or tell us what you think about this, contact the best practice team via firstname.lastname@example.org