Special needs conference

addressing the delegates is keynote speaker, Sonia Blandford.
addressing the delegates is keynote speaker, Sonia Blandford.

DOZENS of delegates attended a conference to hear the latest plans to create a single assessment plan for children and young people with education, health and care needs.

Hartlepool and Darlington have been selected as a joint Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) pathfinder and the aim is to test new plans by the Government to make the system more co-ordinated and centred on the families needs.

As things stand, children and young people can be subject to three separate assessment plans; one if they have any educational needs, one for health needs and one for social care needs, but under new proposals that will be brought together under one plan.

It will also cover young people from birth to 25 rather than birth to 18, as is the case now, and the aim is to have the new system in place by September 2014.

The Hartlepool and Darlington pathfinder has been extended recently for a further 18 months and officials say they are pleased with the progress being made with test cases and piloting the scheme.

Around 100 parents, carers and representatives from the voluntary, health, education and care sectors came together at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, off Marina Way, to hear about the latest developments.

Nationally there are 20 pathfinders, including 31 local authorities, and officials say the Hartlepool and Darlington pathfinder is one of the most successful.

Tracy Liveras, short break and parent participation officer at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We are on target and we are starting to increase the number of families that are going through the one plan process and we have already signed a number of families off.

“The feedback has been very positive and families feel like they are part of the process.

“This is about meeting the children’s needs rather than meeting our own needs and there is a personal budget attached to the plan.”

The conference was the second to be held by Hartlepool and Darlington and delegates were updated on the latest information and future plans for the next 18-months.

If anyone would like more information about the joint pathfinder they are asked to contact Tracy Liveras on (01429) 284876.