How can I get a second opinion so my son can be assessed?
My 8-year-old son is currently looked after under Section 20 and in a residential facility including schooling. CAMHS identified ADHD and Autism needs to be monitored but they will not diagnose. My LA is looking at foster care as he cannot stay on Section 20 any longer. I want him home but cannot cope 24/7 so we agreed on midweek residential and home every weekend and holiday. Because there is no diagnosis, the LA won't fund the residential side of it. I feel that a second opinion would be beneficial to get the diagnosis we need so the LA would have to reconsider. How do I go about getting a second opinion before the court is approached for the care order?
If the LA hasn’t undertaken an EHC needs assessment, you can request that it does so by using IPSEA’s model letter. The types of assessments undertaken are in Reg 6 of the SEND Regs and will include advice and information from a health care professional, educational psychologist as well as social care. The advice and information sought should detail your son’s needs, the provision he requires as well as a range of outcomes for him for the future.
Following the EHC needs assessment, your son may need an EHC plan. Part of this process should be to assess whether your son needs a residential placement for his educational and/or social needs. If this is the case, then your LA should fund your son’s placement without the need for a diagnosis.
Your son may receive a diagnosis as part of his assessment. If he doesn’t, see whether your LA has a ‘diagnostic pathway’ for autism/ADHD that may be published in its local offer. The local offer should be available on your LA’s website. It may also be worth speaking with your GP who may be able to help you/refer your son to a specialist.
If your son already has an EHC plan, you should look into the diagnostic pathway as described above. If you have already pursued this without success, we would recommend that you make a formal complaint addressed to both the LA (to the director of children’s services) and the Clinical Commissioning Group (to the designated medical officer) explaining how their failure to work together is leaving your son without adequate provision and potentially preventing him from being able to return to your care. Additionally, if the LA have named a particular school in the EHC plan and you are within time to appeal, you could appeal to the SEND Tribunal to try to get a residential placement named in his EHC plan.
Your local IASS team may be able to provide you with further information about the diagnostic process in your local area, and potentially provide support with a complaint or an appeal