by derekdeedman on 14 November, 2014
West Sussex County Council has launched the Local Offer as part of reforms introduced by the then Lib Dem Minister for Children, Sarah Teather, as part of the Children and Families Act, which came into force on 1 September 2014.
So it is now even easier for families whose children have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to access support and services, thanks to the launch of a brand new website.
The West Sussex Local Offer, will become a one-stop-shop for parents and carers of young people aged from birth to 25 years with SEND. It allows families to search for support for their child, and see clearly what is available in their local area and how to access it.
The website brings together information about health, social care and education all in one place. It will also contain details of childcare, short breaks, support groups and family leisure activities.
Users can browse the comprehensive range of services, and information can be saved easily to a pin board. Users simply ‘pin’ any service which is of interest and the list of ‘pins’, which includes contact details and a summary of what the organisation can provide to support the individual, can then be downloaded and printed or emailed. People who register on the site can go one step further and save their pin board in a secure area for future reference.
West Sussex County Council continues to work closely with young people, parents and carers, including the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, to develop the website and ensure it meets the very specific needs of families with SEND.
Denise Berry from Worthing is a parent carer, and has been heavily involved with the West Sussex Local Offer from its inception. She said: “It’s very rewarding to see the Local Offer turn into something tangible and real. Being the parent of a now-17 year old son who had a late diagnosis of autism at the age of 11, the Local Offer is something I’d have been so relieved to have had back then, and something I had always hoped would come about.
“The website is a fantastic and wonderfully supportive tool for all parent carers, their children and young people.”
Peter Evans, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life, said: “Parents and carers are often trying to navigate a complicated system of health, education and social care services single-handedly. They’ve told us that it can feel like nobody understands what they’re going through, and that it is an extremely lonely experience.
“That is why we’re delighted to have had the support and involvement of the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum from the very beginning, and we thank them for the commitment they have given to this project.
“The Local Offer already contains a wide range of information, but it will continue to develop and evolve as new and existing services sign up to the site, and as we receive feedback. We are committed to ensuring that the website becomes a valuable resource for families, providing clear information and access to the support they need to give their child the best possible start in life.”
Gráinne Saunders, Co-Chair for the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum agrees: “This site has been designed to support families, particularly those with SEND.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure that our Local Offer is interactive and we can do this by providing feedback on the website itself and the service providers, and by letting the Local Offer team know about any new services.
“The website is in its infancy, but if everyone works together to build it, share it and use it, it will make a big difference to families in West Sussex for years to come. Please, get on board!”
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