All posts in “Families”

SNAP Cymru telephone helpline experiencing unprecedented demand

The SNAP Cymru telephone helpline is currently under extreme pressure – with the unprecedented demand showing no sign of easing. This is exasperated by the higher than usual number of staff off with seasonal colds and flu. This is likely to continue in the coming weeks.

People are encouraged to ‘do their bit’ to reduce pressure on the helpline by completing the ‘Get Help’ Enquiry Form and submitting it rather than phoning the helpline. One of our trained advisers will send you a reply by email (or call you back if requested). We aim to provide you with the relevant information within five working days.

The Advice section of our website also contains lots of information including template letters and advice sheets.

 

 

 

Overhaul of how the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) are assessed and met

This year and next new reforms will overhaul how the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) are assessed and met.

This December the new Additional Learning needs Bill was presented to the Welsh Assembly and pass through several stages before becoming Law next Autumn. This will begin several years of replacing SEN statements with Individual Development Plans. Changes to assessment are designed to place the child and their family at the centre of consultations with Schools and  local authorities (LAs)and make the whole process more integrated, collaborative which should facilitate early, timely and effective support

A fair and transparent system of resolving concerns

Many families have concerns that LAs as pre-destined to deny families the provision they want or feel their child needs, and cast statutory assessment as a fight of David versus Goliath proportions. Perhaps inevitably, battle-lines get drawn in some minds before they even approach the LA.  The new process will hopefully change this ‘fight’.

SNAP Cymru has always provided measured guidance for parents who are dissatisfied with school or LA’s responses and our intention has always been to help families avoid the prospect of legal action or costly, stressful disputes over what ought to be a collaborative process between families and professionals based on the best interest of the child.

The new Bill and code of practice (which will follow next Spring/summer), suggests a move away from the widespread default model.  It emphasises the significance of “high quality teaching” and high aspirations for children as part of a ‘transformation programme’ and workforce development. http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/pupilsupport/additoinal-learning-needs-reform/?lang=en

When the English reforms took place from 2014 onward, and statements were changed to Education and Health Care plans the English government announced a £30m scheme to train “independent supporters to assist parents through the SEN process and their request for an EHCP. No such money on the horizon here just innovation funding for LA’s to plan for the process.

The Welsh Government Law will describe a fair and transparent system for providing information and advice, and for resolving disagreements, although there are concerns that Local Authorities may take this opportunity to reject independent support and advice preferring to take services ‘in -house’ as happened in Pembrokeshire.  Whilst these service are informative (many appoint ex SNAP Cymru  staff)  it can never offer a reliable  independent perspective.

For the time being, local authorities and all those who work with children and young people with SEN, must ensure that they continue to comply with the duties placed upon them by the Education Act 1996. They must also continue to have regard to the SEN Code of Practice for Wales, (The SEN Code of Practice can be accessed on our website) and must continue to accept requests for Statutory assessments  and write and maintain Statements of Special Educational Needs.

You could help shape this Bill

SNAP Cymru will be supporting the Welsh Government Children, Young People and Education Committee to ‘hear’ parent’s voices to assist them with the scrutiny of the Bill.  If you are a parent of a child with SEN,  informed about the reform so far, passionate and have a real interest in sharing your perspective with the AMs on this committee – give us a call or send us an email- we may be able to offer you place to have your views heard.

You can also contact your local AM who can feed your views into the process.

If you’ve received a great service from SNAP Cymru and are concerned about the potential loss of Independent support and Parent partnership from the Bill and COP or the way in which this could be weakened- let your AMs know.

There is an exciting time ahead for SEN,  moving from one system to another and replacing statements with IDPs could be great news, but it also has the potential to cause anxiety for lots of parents.  SNAP Cymru is here to support family concerns through this process.  If you are worried or have any questions, please contact us through our helpline 0845 1203730 helpline @snapcymru.org or directly to training@snapcymru.org or 01554778288.

 

 

Working with disabled young children and their families in Anglesey

Finding out your child has a disability or medical condition can be difficult and bewildering. Parents of disabled children need support, information and advice as early as possible.  Obviously all families are different, so at SNAP Cymru we provide a range of support for families through our Parent Partnership and Dispute Resolution services and also more directly with families through our Welsh Government  Family First funded projects. One such service is our Sir Fôn Portage service which essentially provides an opportunity for children to develop through play – a service which gets a big thumbs-up from most parents

What does a Portage Home Visitor do?

Our Anglesey Portage workers Sian and Sandra offer key-working support for parents with young children from 0 to starting school age who have an emerging diagnosis of disability or severe and complex medical condition in order to promote better understanding and access to all the available services to families. They also provide regular support in the home to parents/carers of children from 18 months to 3 &1/2 who have a moderate developmental delay utilising the Portage model. Central to this approach is empowering families so they can help their child develop.

Our portage workers visits families regularly at home to offer help, advice, and guidance and give practical suggestions about what families can do to help their child. The help offered will vary according to a child’s needs, but things like, toilet-training and bedtime routines; information about what extra help is available (Family Fund, DLA etc) arranging a place for summer play scheme etc. Sian and Sandra use play to support children’s development, give family members ideas for activities they could try with their child at home, including support for parents to introduce their child to a range of sensory play and messy play experiences.

The service is not just for children with special educational needs – it can help any child who needs help with developmental issues. Our portage workers will help assess what the child can do across all areas of development and decide with the parent or carer on some long term targets broken down into small step activities

SNAP Works closely with other professionals helping the child or family and sometimes makes joint visits with other professionals involved with the child.

For example; our Portage worker was able to form a close relationship with a family during weekly visits. As a result, the parents were assisted to keep on top of appointments and sessions were delivered for the parent and little girl, as she had missed so many of her nursery sessions. Our portage worker also came up with a very effective but simple solutions to help the parents continue attending the child’s appointments; a pin board and bright coloured post-it notes. This particular child has speech and language difficulties and although our Portage worker is currently using a visual materials symbols for instructions the long term goal is still to develop the child’s ability to speak.

In addition, the child has been re-referred to speech therapy and appointments with a Community Paediatrician and Community Dental Practice have been re-arranged. By arranging a transfer to a school within the family’s catchment area, her attendance at nursery has improved.  A crucial relationship was formed through working with the Nursery’s with the SEN Early Years Co-ordinator, pre-school Education Psychologist and with Uned ABC and concerns about the little girl language development were shared.

SNAP’s relationship with Barnado’s locally allowed us to provide support during an initial meeting regarding Mindfulness sessions focusing on depression and anger issues.

In addition in order to address the Mum’s low self-esteem a volunteer with SNAP Cymru met up with the mother to research opportunities for returning to further education or finding employment.  Mum think the “service is brilliant!”