During the development of the PfA strategy a range of sessions with parents/carers took place including online 1-1 sessions and physical/online focus groups. Some sessions were advertised through the Local Offer and others were held with groups who had previously expressed an interest in being involved with participation and engagement activity.
The full collections of comments from these activities were used alongside the work that the SEND Youth Forum carried out and input from services and professionals to develop the PfA strategy.
The discussions held with parents/carers have been collated and summarised below.
Parents/Carers also gave input and suggestions on specific areas related to PfA that they feel children and young people with SEND could be better/more constantly supported with. These have been captured and will be used along the work of the SEND Youth Forum to inform the creation of the PfA Toolkit which is being developed as a result of the strategy.
The PfA strategy runs until September 2022. As this isn’t a long time, some things that parents/ carers have raised may be taken forward beyond this. For example, to ensure all ideas and suggestions are acted upon, they will be used in future developments. More details about this and how you can get involved will be available in the coming weeks and months
Better access and more transparent information
- Information to be more easily available, and accessible at any time.
- A wider knowledge is needed about what is available, from who and when.
- More information to be readily available about “what is next” including services and education options.
- There needs to be more support and awareness of financial support that is available.
- More awareness of where support around financial applications can be accessed, especially around the transition from DLA to PIP.
- There needs to be more general awareness of services and support, rather than having to wait until something is needed to be able to start trying to find it.
- A need for more information/support so that parents/carers can best support their child to be independent but also safe. Support around finding the balance between supporting and preparing for a child/young person’s vulnerabilities but also empowering them.
- More focus on what support is available to parents to aid the development of skills for children/young people rather than just telling us what is wrong or what they can’t do. Information about support needs to be given or directed to as parent/carers don’t always know where to look.
- Promoting support to parents and ensuring they feel that they are doing the right thing by seeking support.
- Increasing knowledge of services and provision available after 25
- A need to ensure that mental health services are included in discussion and information about health services.
- A need for more and earlier information about education places/settings
An earlier focus
- It often takes children and young people with SEND longer to get where they should be, so we need to prepare for it earlier.
- PfA must start long before Year 9. Parents/Carer need to be able to start making plans and thinking about possibilities much before then.
- A need to pre-empt challenges before they happen and be able to plan about how to deal with them if they do.
Consistency and support
- More consistency in support and services that are offered/available.
- Ensuring support is available to support form filling etc. A need to rethink what is deemed “capable” as support needs to be available when people need to access it, one size doesn’t fit all.
- More specific/ supported opportunities for volunteering/ work experience as well as internships and apprenticeships that are different to the traditional 2-week school offer.
- Increasing opportunities for young people with SEND to socialise with none SEND peers
- A need for more support when between children’s and adult services
- The transition process needs to be refined and more transparent.
- A need for transition between services, for example being put on waiting lists before the change of service starts.
- The idea of a Transitions Service was suggested.
The SEND youth forum used existing PfA resources to identify what they thought the Key areas of PfA are. They used this to create a presentation which was presented to professionals who had come together to form a PfA working group.
Young people told us that, there needs to be a joint approach from key services such as education, health, and social care, they also believe young people with SEND need to be educated earlier rather than later, on issues such as sex education, drug, and alcohol use.
The SEND Youth Forum told us that Children and young people with SEND:
- May develop at a different pace compared to their peers, which may be earlier or later.
- Are at risk of being taken advantage of and need support to be able to recognise this. This should be planned and young people with SEND should be educated early enough to ensure they are at the least possible risk, not given the support later than their peers.
- Need to know when they need to seek support and if they are not educated on topics before this happens, how they will be able to do that.
The SEND Forum felt that 5 key areas are the right ones to focus on
- Education and employment
- Independent Living
- Community Inclusion
- Choice and Control
The strategy should link them together so that when a topic is duplicated, services work together to make sure their work compliments each other.
All children and young people will become adults, this is something we cannot control.
What we can do is make sure that we prepare young people so they are in the best possible position for starting their adult lives, when our services can no longer support them.
This strategy is an opportunity to make sure that happens.