What are Independent Supporters?
Independent Supporters will be individuals who will be recruited and managed by the private, voluntary and community sector to provide advice and support for parents of children with SEN, and young people with SEN, through the statutory assessment and Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) processes. They will be available to support parents and young people through the process of converting Statements of SEN to EHC Plans.
Independent Supporters will offer a range of time-limited support such as liaison across different agencies and information on personal budgets. The level and nature of that support will be tailored to the particular needs of individual families. They will be independent from the local authority. In the London Borough of Bromley they will be recruited by Bromley Mencap and Burgess Autistic Trust. The Independent Supporters will work in partnership with the Local Authority and Information Advice and Support Service.
All Independent Supporters will be expected to complete the IS training programme within 2 months of recruitment.
What role will LAs play?
Local authorities will be responsible for conducting SEN assessments and putting in place EHC plans. The Government are asking Local Authorities to work in partnership with its Parent Partnership Services and those organisations providing Independent Supporters to help identify families in most need of support.
What role will IASS Bromley (formerly known as Parent Partnership) and key workers have?
IASS Bromley already provide impartial information, advice and support to families. Some families are also able to access a key worker to support them. However, the new SEN arrangements will require local authorities to provide broader information, advice and support across education, health and social care services.
The amount, and the nature, of the support each family receives will be different. The important thing is that the support is properly targeted so that the families that most need this kind of support receive it. In a time of austerity, it is all the more important that funding is used as effectively as possible. The reforms overall will help ensure that families are fully engaged in decisions that affect them from the outset, in some cases with the help of Independent Supporters. This should help ensure that the right support is provided to families and young people as quickly as possible.
Local authorities will be responsible for conducting SEN assessments and putting in place EHC plans. The Government are asking Local Authorities to work in partnership with its IASS Bromley, (formally Parent Partnership) Services and those organisations providing Independent Supporters to help identify families in most need of support. LAs must convert existing Statements of SEN and Learning Disability Assessments to EHC Plans (See Transitional arrangements).
Are Independent Supporters simply intended to act as the ‘keyworkers’ the Code of Practice envisages while parents are moved on to EHCPs?
Local authorities provide access to a range of information, advice and support on SEN – making links to existing bodies and commissioning specific services where that is a priority locally. Key working services potentially offer support to any family who has children and/or young people with SEN, and could be provided by statutory services as well organisations in the private, voluntary and community sectors. They may or may not be independent of the local authority. Independent Supporters will be targeted specifically at those going through the statutory assessment and EHC Planning process, will be independent of the local authority and can only be provided by private, voluntary and community sector organisations. They are intended to add to the existing services that local authorities can draw upon to support families, not to replace them.
How will it work in Bromley?
The Government expects IASS Bromley, (formally Parent Partnership) services, local authorities, parent carer forums and other local statutory and voluntary services to work with organisations that recruit Independent Supporters to help ensure that this additional resource complements and enhances existing services and that it is targeted at families in most need of support.
In Bromley, the voluntary sector consortium, led by Bromley Mencap will work closely with Bromley’s IASS and Choice Service (formerly Bromley Parent Partnership) and Bromley Local Authority via a Joint steering group. This will ensure the maximum use of resources available, streamline referrals and to prevent duplication and overlap of delivery. Both IASS Bromley and the consortium Independent Support programme,offer free impartial information regarding transferring across into the new legislation including assistance for new referrals and those transferring from Statements of education.
The Independent Support offered by the consortium within Bromley will include:
- Developing an information hub to include a website, FAQs, information fact sheets and an online forum monitored by IS workers
- Two full time paid IS workers. One will be based at Bromley Mencap the other will be based at Burgess Autistic Trust. The IS workers will work closely with the Family Support Managers of these organisations and BPV/X by X
- Recruitment, training and supporting a team of 10 Volunteer Independent Parent Supporters (VIPS) to work with families and disabled young people. VIPS will be “buddied” with families and carefully matched depending on local school and local area to offer emotional support as well as information
- Providing peer support for parents through BPV and peer support for young people through X by X
- Running regular information workshops for parents in partnership with BPV