This year, we committed to being better at communicating with you. Letting you know what is going on through various different methods rather than just social media. We have a brand new website, a termly newsletter and we are now also putting out monthly catch up e-mails. These will comprise of some statistics, demonstrating what we as a forum have done in that month. Some may find just that small capture of information not quite enough and so we will try to dive into a little more detail in the blog. Its probably easiest to split up what we have been doing into Education, Health and Care summaries.
There is work going on with NDTi to improve the local area’s EHCP’s. We were part of a multi-agency audit that looked at the quality of EHCP’S and reviews, and there were some examples that were good, and others that were not so good, some that were heartbreaking. It seemed that a lot of the time, the document was just a list of things that happened to an individual or if you were to imagine all of your own insecurities being written down on a piece of paper and presented to the world to be seen. The local area is committed to making the EHCP’s in Stockton more person-centred with quality outcomes that will focus on preparation for adulthood rather than just academic milestones. This is, of course, going to be challenging, and I don’t expect anyone to be getting it completely right all of the time. But I am hopeful that the work that has started will continue to grow and develop.
Don’t forget that the SEN & Engagement team attend the coffee mornings we have once a month for a drop-in session and there are 1-1 appointments for the 10th March available here.
I am waiting on a final statement that will be coming very soon in regards to the NeuroDevelopmental Pathway. You may be aware that a trial began last year on what is currently being called a ‘Triage’. This was a multi-agency board that assessed the referrals that were coming into CAMHS for an Autism Assessment. The panel looks at what could be provided to this child/family before putting them on a pathway or what support will the family need whilst waiting for the assessment. We will let everyone know as soon as we get the final details on this.
Stockton & Hartlepool were successful in their bid to be one of the second phases for the mental health trailblazer. This is a low-level mental health service within schools in Billingham. The feedback from parents has generally been positive, but we will continue with involvement to ensure that meeting the mental health needs of those with SEND and recognising that this may and very likely will look different to others.
Transforming Care Project work has been ongoing and continuing positively. We have between 12-15 families in both schools regularly attending and participating and we have arranged sensory training from Claire Stirland (Sensory Worx) as part of the project. The headteachers and SENCO’s have been really positive and taken on board suggestions from families and are really proactive in wanting to know how they can improve their schools to meet the needs of children with SEND.
You may be aware that the local authority ran out of money for the short breaks grant offer last year early on. We have been going back and forth with the team and are really happy to see that the funding will be in place again this year.
We will be holding an information day at Newtown Community Resource Centre, where you will be able to find out information about where you are able to spend the short breaks grant and also get help with regards to the application.
The short breaks grant applications will be returning to a two-term application process. We appreciate that for some this may cause concern, however, this is the currently the fairest way of ensuring that people are able to access the fund throughout the year. We know that this will provoke a lot of conversation positive and negative, but we would like to draw your attention to how fortunate we are in Stockton to have the offer we do. The LA are exploring lots of avenues to try and make the funding accessible for as many people as possible.
Please note that applications will be moving to an online system. For the first six months, you will still be able to make paper applications which we will let you know as soon as they become available. However online applications will open on the 1st of April. We will be looking at how we can ensure there is support available to everyone who needs this to fill in the forms.