As the SEN reforms make their torturous way through Parliament, the voluntary sector needs to shift its thinking forward into implementation mode. The change involved is ambitious: nothing less than a systems change in which families, local authorities, schools and health services and the voluntary sector all need to learn new skills.
Genuine person centred planning lies at the heart of the reforms, which means offering families of children and young people with Special Educational Needs – or the young people themselves – much greater choice of approaches and services that can help them. But one of the biggest challenges is a yawning information gap: how do families find out about what’s available to help them?
For more than two years I CAN has been working with Ambitious about Autism, Contact a Family, Dyslexia Action, KIDS, MENCAP, and the National Autistic Society to come up with a solution that is as simple as it is ambitious: an online brokerage service that will connect families with the help that they and their children need through the internet.
Our vision has been supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Education, who have both made development funding available. Elizabeth Archer, formerly of MENCAP, has just stepped into the Director role, and we are seeking nine Local Authorities to work with us as development partners.
Watch this space – SENDirect is going places! I CAN is proud to be part of such an ambitious programme with such scope for helping children and families.
CEO, I CAN