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The Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families has confirmed funding of nearly £60m to support children and families with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The funding will be used to help embed reforms made to the SEND system and continue support for groups who have been bringing about the progress to date.
Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, said: “These reforms are the most significant we’ve made to the support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in a generation and we know that they are making a difference, thanks to the passion and dedication of all those involved.”
Of the £60m funding, £15m will be awarded to the Council for Disabled Children’s Independent Supporters programme, which has so far been a force for change for families in the SEND system, with 90 per cent of users finding the service very or extremely useful.
Christine Leneham, director of the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), said: “CDC is pleased to continue this successful piece of work for the Department for Education.
“Independent Support has fast become a valuable resource to help parents of children and young people with SEN navigate the EHC [Education, Health and Care] planning process and get involved in annual reviews.
“CDC look forward to continuing our work with information, advice and support services and a wide range of private, voluntary a community sector partners who deliver Independent Support on the front line, to seek the best outcomes possible for parents and young people up to March 2018.”
The funding package also includes a £40m investment in local authorities, which is an increase of £4.2m from last year.
This will support councils in making effective plans for the final year of the transition to the new SEND system.
Mr Timpson added: “As we enter the final year of the transition, I know there are still challenges to overcome, to ensure that the inspiring work going on in many parts of the country is shared with areas where improvements still need to be made.
“That’s why I’m delighted to be able to confirm this additional funding for councils and for the groups playing such a vital role in supporting children with SEND.
“All children, no matter the obstacles they face, should have the same opportunities for success as any other.”
Gail Walshe, head of parent carer participation at Contact a Family, which will receive £1.8m of the announced funding, said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education continues to recognise how parents of disabled children can make a difference. Since 2010, parent participation has gone from strength to strength.
“Parent carers are increasingly at the heart of the shaping and redesign of disabled children's services, which is benefiting all.
“We are also delighted that the government recognises the invaluable support that the Contact a Family helpline gives to families providing advice and information when they need it most.”
The funding of almost £60m was announced on 9 January following a meeting between Mr Timpson and members of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. It will be made available from April.