From 2004, my wife and I were foster carers for a young man with severe autism. In 2016, aged 18 he moved to supported living and now lives in an adjoining borough . Until the move, our foster son has lived in and been educated in his home borough. The LA in his home borough funds his care package and he attends a local FE college. Due to his situation he has "ordinary resident" status.
Our ex foster son has had a Statement and the school started, but did not complete, his EHCP. We were informed that as he now lives in another borough and they have responsibility for his EHCP. We understand is in line with the SEN CoP.
My question is this: Can his previous LA export their responsibility for our ex-foster son's EHCP? It would seem to make more sense for the local authority that has all the background information and past history to be the body that undertakes the EHCP process. His new LA seems willing to undertake the process but we are a little concerned it could become a "tick box" exercise without very close collaboration between local authorities. Has anyone any similar experience or could offer advice?
The LA responsible for a young person is the area in which they are ordinarily resident. However, there are a number of provisions in the law and the SEND Code of Practice which could be of assistance if you are concerned about ensuring the new LA have all of the relevant information.
The first step towards getting an EHC plan is an EHC needs assessment (this is the case both when someone is transferring from a Statement to an EHC plan, and if they have applied for an EHC plan for the first time). Paragraph 9.14 of the SEND CoP says that when an LA is considering whether to carry out an EHC needs assessment they should consider evidence of the action already taken by the early years provider, school or post-16 institution to meet the child or young person’s SEN. That means that your son's current LA should contact your ex-foster son’s previous school and LA for information.
The importance of sharing information and avoiding duplication is highlighted at paragraphs 9.32 and 9.33 of the Code:
“9.32 Information sharing is vital to support an effective assessment and planning process which fully identifies needs and outcomes and the education, health and care provision needed by the child or young person. Local authorities with their partners should establish local protocols for the effective sharing of information which addresses confidentiality, consent and security of….”
“9.33 As far as possible, there should be a ‘tell us once’ approach to sharing information during the assessment and planning process so that families and young people do not have to repeat the same information to different agencies, or different practitioners and services within each agency.”
If is his new LA agrees to carry out an EHC needs assessment they should discuss with your ex-foster son the range of advice required to enable a full EHC needs assessment to take place. Again, the principle underpinning this is ‘tell us once’, avoiding the child’s parent or the young person having to provide the same information multiple times, see paragraph 9.47 of the Code. This should provide an opportunity for your ex-foster son, perhaps with support, to ask the LA to approach his previous school or LA for information.
Paragraph 9.49 of the Code says that, where it is not possible to obtain educational advice and information from the manager, headteacher or principal of the early years setting, school or post-16 or other institution currently attended by the child or young person, the authority must seek advice from a person with experience of teaching children or young people with SEN, or knowledge of the provision which may meet the child’s or young person’s needs. It would seem logical for the LA to approach the head teacher of the previous school attended for this information, and reasonable to ask for that to happen.
It may be helpful to know that the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty on an LA to co-operate with another LA in the exercise of its functions under part 3 of the Act. See section 31(1) (a) and section 31(2) (a) and (b):
31 Co-operating in specific cases: local authority functions
(1) This section applies where a local authority in England requests the co-operation of any of the following persons and bodies in the exercise of a function under this Part—
(a) another local authority;
(2) The person or body must comply with the request, unless the person or body considers that doing so would
(a) be incompatible with the duties of the person or body, or
(b) otherwise have an adverse effect on the exercise of the functions of the person or body.