Kent County Council and the local NHS are launching a consultation on a new strategy to improve the outcomes, experiences and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families.
At the heart of the strategy is the ambition to make sure that all children and young people with SEND and their families have a positive experience in Kent, with their needs identified early, the chance to be a part of their local community and fully involved in decisions about their support.
The strategy focuses on five priorities to:
- improve the way we work with children, young people, parents and carers.
- ensure children, young people and their families have positive experiences at each stage of their journey including a well-planned and smooth transition to adulthood
- identify and assess the needs of children and young people earlier and more effectively
- improve education, care and health outcomes for children and young people, and
- ensure children and young people are included in their local community.
It has been shaped by the involvement and feedback given to us by children and young people, parents and carers, Kent PACT (Parents and Carers Together – a forum for parents of children and young people with disabilities and additional needs) and other key stakeholders.
The new strategy forms part of the Kent response to the Ofsted and CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection of services in early 2019, where they highlighted that too many children and young people with SEND do not get the support they need in Kent.
The strategy sets out how we will treat children, young people and their families as an equal partner in decision-making, improve communication and involve them in the design of support and services.
It also explains the improvements that KCC, the NHS and partners will make to the support and access to services for children with SEND as they reach adulthood, making sure that what can be an uncertain time goes as smoothly and is as positive an experience as possible, while providing plenty of opportunities to make a positive contribution to the wider community.
Sue Chandler, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, said: “Our new strategy is an important step forward in our work to address the issues highlighted by the inspection, but it also goes further. Having listened carefully to children, young people and their families over the past year, the strategy sets out our collective ambition to make sure children and young people with SEND have access to the best childcare, education and training opportunities, through personalised support and a more inclusive approach adopted by schools.
“Children, young people and their families deserve to receive support and advice at the right time from skilled practitioners who understand their needs and how these can be best met, and the strategy sets out how we will achieve this.
“I would urge young people and their families to take part in the consultation, as well as the skilled and dedicated practitioners who are involved in supporting them.”
Caroline Selkirk, Executive Director for Health Improvement at Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The NHS takes its responsibilities for looking after the health and emotional well-being of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities extremely seriously.
“In developing this strategy and taking into account any new comments, I am confident that we will have an effective strategy that will support the NHS and KCC to continue to improve the care it offers these children and young people.”
People can tell us what they think about the strategy and share their views about it by visiting www.kent.gov.uk/sendstrategyconsultation. The consultation is open from Wednesday, December 2 and will remain open until midnight, Thursday, February 4.
If you would like the consultation document and questionnaire in an alternative format, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03000 42 15 53 (text relay service number: 18001 03000 42 15 53).
Notes for journalists:
In Kent, there are just under 37,000 school-aged children and young people with SEND.
However, there has been an increase in the number of school-aged children and young people identified with SEND and an increase in the proportion of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans issued, which is in line with that seen nationally.
A third of all EHC plans maintained by Kent are for young people aged 16-25. The numbers of plans for this age group has increased by 30% since January 2018. Less than 3% of plans issued are for pre-school children, however, Kent data shows that there is an increasing demand on services and support networks within Early Years.
The latest Kent SEND Health Needs Assessment provides further analysis of the current education and health needs of children and young people ages 0-25 with SEND.