The draft children and families bill sets out government plans to give all families of children and young people with special education needs or disabilities (SEND) and an education, health and care plan, the option for accessing a personal budget.
However, new research from the eight SEND consortium charities, including Contact a Family, found that under the current system only one in ten parents of children with SEND use a personal budget and only one in twenty say they use direct payments.
The SEND consortium survey of 850 parents also found that:
• for those who didn’t use a personal budget, nearly 60 per cent said it was because they didn’t know about them
• nearly 40 per cent of people who said they didn’t use direct payments, reported it was because they didn’t know about them
• almost half rated the help they receive as ‘poor’
• almost three quarters of respondents wanted ‘more control’ over the help they receive
SENDirect to reduce confusion around personal budgets To give parents the chance to make the most of personal budgets, the SEND consortium is developing an innovative ‘brokerage’ service in England-SENDirect.
This will reduce the current confusion and misunderstanding amongst parents about personal budgets and help them to manage them more effectively in the future.
At the same time SENDirect will also help local providers promote their services and understand more about the needs of children and young people with SEND in their area.
Jolanta Lasota spokesperson for the SEND consortium said: “Using personal budgets and direct payments should give families greater choice about and control over the services their children access. Worryingly though, our survey highlights that under the current system many parent carers remain unaware that this facility exists or simply don’t understand them. At the same time gaps in the market are creating barriers to families using personal budgets in the ways they would like. Unless something is put in place that changes this, the government’s emphasis on personalisation will be meaningless.”
“That’s why we are developing SENDirect. As well as supporting families to be more aware of what services are available for their child, it will provide the tools and information to support them to have more control over their personal budgets. At the same time, SENDirect will support providers and commissioners fill any gaps in the services they provide.”
The SENDirect project is funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Education. It will be piloted with nine local authorities later this year, with a planned launch in spring 2015.
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