Implementing the Disability and Special Educational Needs Reform set out in the Children and Families Act 2014
Following on from previous articles, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have continued to carry out joint inspections to consider how Local Authorities have implemented the changes set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 in relation to the transition from Statements of SEN to EHC Plans and the EHC Needs Assessment process. All children and young people who had Statements of SEN should now have transitioned to an EHC Plan. Inspection reports continue to identify similar problems, with parents telling inspectors that they are not always listened to by education, health and social care professionals (Durham Local Authority). Parents reporting that they did not feel they were fully involved in making decisions about the provision and support for their children, with views not fully reflected when EHC Plans were reviewed or amended (Cornwall Local Authority). There is a repeated pattern of limited provision for children and young people who have emotional and mental health difficulties, with lengthy delays in being seen by specialist services such as CAMHS (Cornwall Local Authority). Waiting times for NHS provided therapy such as occupational therapy remains significantly above national targets (Rochdale Local Authority).
Issues relating to meeting the needs of children and young people with autism are highlighted across a number of Local Authorities, ranging from high levels of parental dissatisfaction around how the needs of children and young people with autism are met to lengthy waiting times for diagnosis and assessment. In Lancashire it was identified that the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Pathways, where they exist, do not comply with the guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) Guidelines. This has resulted in inaccurate identification and the needs of children and young people and their families not being met.
The reforms introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 should now be imbedded within Local Authorities but from reports that have been published by Ofsted and the QCA, whilst highlighting some strengths, they identify a number of concerning weaknesses and areas for development that echo those problems experienced by parents during the “old system” before 2014. You can read the inspection outcome letters here.