The new special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England means that:
- every child and young person aged 0 to 25 with a special educational need will be eligible for an education, health and care (EHC) plan; children with statements of SEN and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) will be transferred to EHC plans
- a new single SEND assessment process should be in place in every local area
- every child or young person with an EHC Plan should be eligible for a personal budget, if they would like one
- the NHS and local authorities have a duty to jointly commission services for all disabled children and young people – including those without a SEN – aged 0 to 25; the NHS and local authorities should also take account of the children with life-limiting conditions living in their areas as part of the assessments they must make of their populations’ health and care needs
- all local areas should have a ‘local offer’; this should set out the services available to disabled children in the local area – and should include children’s palliative care services.
Although the new law, brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014, came into force on 1 September, the changes will happen in stages over the next three years. When a child can access an EHC plan, for example, will depend on how old they are and when their local authority is able to adopt the new changes.
You can find out more about the reforms – including Together for Short Lives’ project to make sure that children who need palliative care benefit from them – on Together for Short Lives’ online SEND hub. This hosts resources for families, NHS and social care commissioners and providers and voluntary sector children’s palliative care services. Details on the timescales for the reforms are also available from the hub.
The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) also provides a number of resources about the reforms for children, young people and families on its website.