One of the (numerous) problems many parents find when their child is having an education, health and care needs assessment, is the "care" bit. A social care assessment is often not offered, and if parents request one, the response from the social care department is "not known to social services" case closed.
Then there's always the intimated threat that you wouldn't "want" your child to be known to them, would you? But a social care assessment as part of an EHCP isn't the same as a family being involved with social services or the child having a social worker. It's more to do with qualifying for respite/ short breaks that can be included in the plan. And if your child doesn't have an assessment, how will you know 1. what's available and 2. if they can get them?
Someone we wanted to talk to about this, and more, was former disabled children's social worker, Dame Christine Lenehan. Dame Christine is the long-serving director of the Council for Disabled Children, the organisation that holds Government delivery contracts for disabled children's support including the Information, Advice and Support Service as well as operating a number of other different networks. The CDC describes itself as, "the umbrella body for the disabled children's sector bringing together professionals, practitioners and policy-makers." In other words, it's the lynchpin of the SEND sector and is, in turn, part of the National Children's Bureau. Special Needs Jungle is also a member of the CDC.
Christine has been involved with supporting disabled children for 40 years, including authoring a number of Government reviews. So, if there is someone who knows everything there is to know about the history of SEND, it is Christine. Renata and I caught up with her via Zoom, for a wide-ranging discussion covering children's social care, the SEND reforms, what's gone wrong and what the CDC is doing to try to fix things.
SNJ talks to Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children
You can listen to the conversation in audio only from a platform of your choice below, or watch in glorious technicolor via YouTube.
Thanks to Luca Tirraoro for the theme tune.
- SNJ In Conversation main page
- How SEND parent support in England is changing, by Christine Lenehan
- SEND Update: Good intentions…and complaints for young people with SEND
- Plans and promises: Will the new NHS really be brighter for disabled children?
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