The government has pledged to “force” education, health and social care services to work together when planning support for children with special educational needs (SEN).
Under the Children & Families Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month, parents will also get “a new legal right” to buy in specialist SEN and disabled care for their children. This will see parents control personal budgets for their children’s support, rather than local authorities (LAs) being the sole provider.
The Bill will also require LAs and health services to jointly plan and commission services for children with SEN and disabilities. This will include requiring LAs to publish a “local offer” showing the support available to affected children and their families.
In addition, the Bill will replace SEN statements with a single “birth to 25 years assessment process” covering education, health and care from 2014.
Ministers described it as “the biggest reform of SEN for 30 years”. Children’s minister Sarah Teather said: “The current system is outdated and not fit for purpose. Thousands of families have had to battle for months, even years, with different agencies to get the specialist care their children need.
“It is unacceptable they are forced to go from pillar to post, facing agonising delays and bureaucracy to get support, therapy and equipment. These reforms will put parents in charge.”
The reforms are in response to the public consultation on the government’s green paper, Support and Aspiration, which was published in March 2011.