Education, Health and Care plans and Personal Budgets
|The theme for this week is Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and personal budgets. Please post any questions and challenges, which are causing barriers to you implementing this element of the reforms. To make sure that local areas are well equipped to support families and young people we are particularly welcoming questions from professionals.
You can post questions from 1pm on Monday 17/2/14 – 5pm on Wednesday 19/2/14. Once you have posted your question we will arrange for a response to be posted to the forum by the end of the same week.
|1. Thinking about the remit of 0-25, have other authorities explored early help funding streams for 0-2 year olds as part of their Local Offer and as part of a graduated approach? This may then preclude the need to consider a full Education, Health & Care Plan at such an early stage.
2. How have Pathfinders managed the process of a young person at College or similar making their own referral to a panel for an Education, Health & Care Plan?
3.Are there comments from Pathfinders as to how the Plan was received by colleagues in Adult Services and how that stage of the process worked out?
|EHCPs are to completed within a 20 week period, is it reasonable/within the spirit/word of the law to take a further 4 weeks to allocate a personal budget? ie up to 24 weeks before provision can be arranged? Or should it all be done within the 20 weeks?|
|I am a carer of a disabled 16 year old & I have mental health problems. I have approached my LA to try & get a personal budget for me & my son. When I make contact with my LA they ask me do I mean a direct payment. When I say no a personal budget they don't have a clue what I am talking about. If you are therefore implementing personal budgets then how am I suppose to achieve this if nobody in my LA knows what I am talking about?|
|We have four questions:
Firstly, we would like to know why so many LA Pathfinders appear to be breaking the law in relation to offering SEN DPs. Some seem to believe it is up to them to choose whether to follow the wording of the Direct Payments Pilot Order. The Order places a number of mandatory duties upon pathfinder authorities and the relevant paragraphs are below:
The local authority must provide information and advice about direct payments under section 532A(1) of the 1996 Act to parents ……whenever it serves a copy of a SEN statement or amended statement … (Schedule 1, paragraph 3 of the Order );
The local authority must consider any requests for direct payments for SEN (Schedule 1, paragraph 3 of the Order) in accordance with Schedule 1, paragraphs 10-12 of the Order;
Where a local authority decides not to make direct payments, it must inform the proposed recipient and parent ….. of the decision and its reasons. They have a right to request a review (Schedule 1, paragraph 13 of the Order).
Parents have told us that LAs have said they are choosing not to follow this Order because they don't want to offer SEN DPs and so don't want to 'raise expectations'. We understand that the DfE may be aware of these issues. The real risk is that this will then be reported by the evaluators as 'low take up' by parents. Yet how can parents take up what they don't know about or are being refused permission to apply for?
Secondly, we are also aware that some LAs may be advising parents that the change to EHCPs will result in fewer children being given legally enforceable provision as the 'threshold for an EHCP is higher' and schools now have more delegated funding. We have also had SENCOs report this.
Legally, this is, of course, nonsense, yet, as we have indicated, LAs are already quite capable of showing a blatant disregard for the law. It seems to us that parents will simply be left to police a system that is more opaque and less comprehensible than before. The oversight and accountability of this system will not have changed so how will any of these improvements 'reduce the struggle'?
Thirdly, we believe that every organisation which has taken Government funding to implement these reforms should be prepared to set out openly and very specifically why they believe these changes will result in better provision for children. If they do not believe this, they should say so. Organisations seeking to represent parents, children and young people must be accountable to them: they deserve open and transparent debate.
Finally, why is there such an easy acceptance that SEN/disability issues should be hived off from the main education debate like this? Why aren't organisations arguing strongly to mainstream these issues? It is what the Equality Act expects of public bodies. All children are the responsibility of all schools, teachers and LAs and these reforms should be at the core of education debates.
Educational Rights Alliance
|We would also ask: should not every person engaged in an EHCP trial also have undergone a statutory assessment and have a statement? This appears to us to be required by the Education Act 1996. It permits no 'opting out' of its statutory duties.|
|I can only agree with "educationalrightsalliance" comments but would also add that in my own LA, there is a very strong bias towards DPs being used to employ "the approved provider". I have been advised locally that choosing a "non approved" care provider may cause "difficulties" with an application for a direct payment. The implication being that the LA wishes to retain control. I've also been advised verbally that personal budgets are not available for people with learning disabilities. We are in a pathfinder area, but our views have not been sought for feedback as our experience has not been encouraging.|
|Based on parent carer queries we would like to ask the following:
q1) Is there going to be a legal duty on Local Authorities to transfer statements with 'lower level hours' onto an EHCP within a set time period. There are discussions that those with statements of 16+ hours will transfer over to new plans but those under these hours will have statements removed (and with them the safety net of support) . We are aware that the support should be offered through schools under the new 'SEN' category and funded by schools - but this is becoming an ever-increasing source of worry for parent carers who are not receiving any clear answers, whilst some schools are reporting of decreased funding and less staff...
q2) Statements that currently have no health element and are transferred to an EHCP - can a health element be added in at this point?
|The following questions have emerged from parents and practitioners we have been working with over the last few months -
1. How can we achieve a balance between making the plan format ’legal’ and keeping it accessible, person centred and outcomes focused?
2. Do any of the Pathfinders have a plan format that the government like? There are rumours going around that no plan has yet been deemed good enough by the DfE ….so some clarity would be much welcomed by all
3. Many practitioners are not at all clear about what 'outcomes focused' means in practice and they are seeking training and guidance - is this going to be available?
4. We were asked the following question by a professional last week and we didn’t feel that we had a good answer – “How do we make sure that the minority who choose to take up personal budgets do not reduce access to the variety of services (by reducing the overall 'pot') for those who do not choose to have a personal budget”? We had a response, but weren't confident that it was a good one!
19/02/2014 10:12:38Sue Brooks
|1. The Draft Code of Practice specifies that outcomes in EHC plans should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) and that a range of outcomes should be included over varying timescales. This is an aspect of the Reforms which parents particularly like rather than the often rather non-specific objectives included in a statement of SEN. As a result many of the EHC Plans I have seen contain a number of outcomes to be achieved over the next 12 months, rather like a set of annual review targets. However some of the LAs with whom we work are expressing a concern over the resource implication of this. Currently, all Statements of SEN may well be reviewed each year, but they are certainly not all amended each year, but if the EHCPs effectively include a set of annual review targets in the main body of the document then surely all EHCPs will need amending every year.
Are there any Pathfinders or indeed non-Pathfinder authorities who have considered how they will address this issue?
2. I have found very few examples of Post 16 EHCPs. Does anyone have any that they would be will to share please?
We’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone for all of your posts so far. Please note, unlike previous weeks we are extending this theme for an extra week because it has been a popular topic and we want to ensure that those professionals, parents and young people who may not have been able to post due to half term have an opportunity to respond to this topic. Please post any questions and challenges by 5pm on Wednesday 26th February. We will arrange for a PfA response to be posted to the forum by 5pm on Friday 28th February.
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