The Association of Speech and Language Therapists welcomes the aims of the Children and Families Bill, though acknowledges that the challenge remains that ensuring that children and young people who require speech and language therapy input are not falling between the cracks, as education and health decide where the funding should come from.
While funding cuts and capacity to deliver services remains an issue for health and education, we welcome the opportunity that young people and their families will have in utilising personal budgets to access speech and language therapy services, including those offered by our membership of independent therapists.
ASLTIP is encouraged by the replacing of the existing statements, with birth to 25 education, health and care plans; as members recognise the importance of continuing to work on the necessary communication skills required for accessing further education, employment and transitioning into adult life.
More about the Bill:
Last week the Government published The Children and Families Bill. While there was a number of topics addressed in the Bill, special education needs (SEN) was a key area. The Government state that the Bill will “reform the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs. It will encourage growth in the childcare sector, introduce a new system of shared parental leave and ensure children in England have a strong advocate for their rights.”
The Bill specifically covered changes to the SEN system for children and young people with the aim that “services consistently support the best outcomes for them”. One of the changes is that the SEN system will extend now from birth to 25, with the rationale that it will give children, young people and their parents more control and choice in decisions and ensure needs are properly met. In doing this, the Government are aiming to take forward the recommendations set out in the review Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability: Progress and next steps.
This review recommended:
Replacing statements with a new birth to 25 education, health and care plan
Offering families personal budgets
Improving cooperation between all the services that support children and their families, particularly requiring local authorities and health authorities to work together.
The Bill introduces a new requirement for local authorities and health services to commission education, health and social care services jointly. This includes arrangements for considering and agreeing what advice and information is to be provided about education, health and care provision, and by whom, to whom and how such advice and information is to be provided. The Bill requires local authorities to publish a clear and transparent “local offer” of services to support children and young people with SEN and their families and requires greater co-operation between local authorities and a wide range of partners, including schools, Academies, colleges, other local authorities and services responsible for providing health and social care.
The Bill will also require LAs to involve parents, children and young people in reviewing and developing SEN provision. It also promotes mediation to resolve disagreement.
To read the Bill:
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