The Children and Families Bill, which will reform the way in which children and young people aged 0 – 25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are assessed and supported, received Royal Assent on Thursday (14 March).
From September, the Children and Families Act 2014, as it is now known, will bring about:
- a single assessment process across education, health and care for children with SEN
- Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Plans to replace statements of SEN
- a right to a personal budget for all children with an EHC Plan
- local offers to set out the services available to children with SEND in local areas, developed in partnership with children, families and the voluntary sector
- duties on the NHS and local authorities to jointly commission services for children with SEND
The reforms will continue to be tested by 20 Pathfinder areas across England until March 2015.
The new Act is an important milestone in the drive to bring about joined up assessments, plans and services for children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. "We welcome the improvements which have been made to the legislation as it has progressed through Parliament - including stronger duties on the NHS to deliver the health elements of an EHC Plan; the widening of the scope of the local offer and joint commissioning duties to include all disabled children; and the duties on schools to support pupils with medical conditions. “The focus must now be on making sure the reforms work for those children with the most complex needs, for whom a more joined-up system is absolutely vital.Andrew Fletcher, Director of External Affairs at Together for Short Lives
Together for Short Lives is taking a lead in making sure that children who need palliative care can benefit from the SEND reforms. Click here to read about our two year, Department for Health-funded project to engage children’s hospices and local voluntary providers with education, health and care commissioners and providers across England.