Category: Information & advice

We’ve been taking a more detailed look at the government’s proposals outlined in the SEND Review Green Paper to make it easier for you to tell the government what you think about its ideas and respond to its public consultation, Right support, right place, right time.

So far we’ve looked at the Green Papers proposals for creating a new set of national standards for SEND provision and what components of the Education Health and Care (EHC) plan they should consider reviewing or amending.

This week we look at perhaps one of the most controversial proposals in the Green Paper about naming a school on your child’s Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Question 5 of the governments SEND Review Green Paper consultation asks: 

How can parents and local authorities most effectively work together to produce a tailored list of placements that is appropriate for their child, and gives parents confidence in the EHC plan process?

Under the Children and Families Act parents have the right to express a preference for certain types of school – all state-funded schools and some approved independent ones. The local authority must then name the preferred school in the EHC plan, provided that particular conditions are met. You can find out more about how it works at the moment on our Applying for a school page.

The Green Paper proposes that Local Authorities (LAs) will give parents a pre-defined list of schools that are suitable for their child. Parents will only be able to ask for a school from this list

When you respond to this question you might like to think about:

And if you disagree with this proposal then you could explain why. For example, would limiting parental preference make it harder to obtain a suitable school for your child?

How to respond

The government has now opened a public consultation on the proposals set out in the green paper. You have until the 22 July to have your say by responding to the consultation.

Although there are 22 questions in the SEND Review green paper consultation, you can respond to as many or as few of these as you like – so don’t worry if you can’t complete all 22 questions.

An alternative way to make your views on its plans known

If you’d prefer you can also respond to the government’s Green Paper consultation and tell them what you think about their plans for via the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s simplified version of the government’s consultation which consists of 6 simple questions. Your answers will be sent directly to the Department for Education and count as a response to their SEND Green Paper consultation.

This week sees the roll out of Adult Disability Payment to replace new claims for Personal Independence Payment in three new Scottish council areas. These areas are North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Angus.

This means that if you live in one of the following areas and do not already get Personal Independence Payment it is too late to make a new claim and you will need to claim Adult Disability Payment instead.

This now applies in:

Claims for Adult Disability Payment by new claimants can be made on-line at mygov.scot or by calling Social Security Scotland free on 0800 182 2222, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

This only applies to new claimants. People in Scotland already receiving Personal Independence Payment will continue to receive that benefit for the time-being.  PIP awards claimants will be transferred onto Adult Disability Payment in stages starting from this summer.  Transfers will be done automatically without needing to make a claim and without any need for a reassessment.

For more information about Adult Disability Payment see our webpage on Adult Disability Payment and benefits at 16.

More details are now available on when eligible families will receive their one-off cost of living payments as part of the government’s cost of living support package

The government announced its support package in May. This followed months of tireless campaigning from organisations and individuals, including our Out of Energy campaign

£650 for low-income families 

Low-income households on most means-tested benefits or tax credits will receive £650. These are paid in two lump sums of £326 and £324. There’s no need to apply, as eligible claimaints will receive both instalments automatically.

Most of the first payments of £326 will be paid between 14 July and the end of July. The second instalment of £324 will be paid in the autumn. 

However, families who get Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit will only receive their first instalment in the autumn and their second payment in winter. 

These instalments are not taxable and won’t affect the benefits or tax credits you receive. 

For more information on who is eligible for this one-off payment, visit the government’s website. 

£150 for those on disability benefits 

Individuals who receive a qualifying disability benefit ,such as Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, will be eligible for a one-off sum of £150. This will be paid from September. 

To be eligible, you must be in receipt of (or have begun an eventually successful claim for) one of the qualifying disability benefits as of 25 May. 

Those who are eligible for the low-income payment and the disability payment will receive both sums. This amounts to a total of £800. 

£400 grant for energy bills 

Households in the UK will also be eligible for a £400 grant to help them with their energy bills. 

No further information is yet available about this grant. The government has already announced that energy suppliers will deliver it directly to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October. 

Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account. Customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher. 

For more information on the grant, take a look at the government’s factsheet

For more about this topic, visit our webpage on help with utility bills.

Last week was Loneliness Awareness Week. Parents often tell us that they feel lonely or isolated when they first realise their child may have an additional need.

That’s why a lot of Contact’s services centre around bringing families together online and in person to build support networks and make friends.

Online friendships

Our private Facebook Group is a supportive online space, where parents share their knowledge and help find solutions to each other’s problems in a warm and encouraging way. There are currently 13,400 members and rising.

We have a programme of workshops, which are not only informative but also a place where families get together and make connections. We also run workshops in particular regions or nations.

Getting together in person

And we are putting on family events in areas we have funding, currently in Wales and the West Midlands. If you are in touch with our London offices, they will be telling you soon about the summer events they have planned, including trips to the seaside and a disability sports day.

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact, said: “One of the most common things we hear parents say is that they feel isolated. This feeling of being alone can start right from diagnosis, when families are often left to come to terms with it on their own. And then there’s less chance of social interaction at baby groups, or at the school gates.

“We know that families are stronger when they have a network of support from other families in a similar situation – whether that’s through local support groups or parent carer forums. That’s why putting families in touch with others for support is at the heart of what Contact does.”

Impact on health

Contact’s Forgotten Families research report (2017) found that isolation caused almost three quarters (72%) of families with disabled children to experience poor mental health such as anxiety, depression or breakdown.

Amanda Batten added: “It’s important to recognise that loneliness has a real impact on health and wellbeing. Some of the isolation that families feel is down to a lack of practical help, so we campaign for better support. All families want is a little amount of support to enable them to continue to care for their disabled child and feel less isolated: a chance to go shopping, a moment to catch up on sleep or have a bath, or time to spend with their other children. This can make such a big difference to how we feel.”

Talk to someone

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, you could join one of our workshops or our private Facebook group for families. We also have appointments to speak to our of Parent Advisers who provide emotional support to parents. Book a Listening Ear appointment today.

NHS England and NICE have announced the launch of the Innovative Medicines Fund (IMF) following an open consultation.

What is the IMF?

The IMF is a ringfenced fund that will speed up access to promising new treatments. NHS England will now have funds for patients to access medicines for which more data might be needed before a normal funding decision can be made.

The fund will have a budget of £340 million a year and will run alongside the existing Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which has a similar budget.

How will the IMF help?

Getting approval for treatments for rare and genetic conditions can be slow and challenging, because the number of patients affected by a single condition is so small.

The IMF could offer a solution by allowing patients access to innovative and potentially life-saving drugs almost immediately. Another advantage is that the scheme will increase the amount of data available to NICE to evaluate the affordability and effectiveness of the treatment.

The IMF will potentially improve access to specialist care, treatment and drugs for people living with rare conditions, which is one of the four priorities of the UK Rare Diseases Framework.

Similar schemes currently operate in Scotland and Wales.

Looking for advice on rare conditions?

Visit our rare conditions page for information on getting support for your child and your family.

Our A-Z of Medical Conditions has information on hundreds on conditions, including information on symptoms and possible treatments. It also includes details for support groups, which can be an invaluable source of condition-specific information and support.

You can also read all about diagnosis and how to deal with common concerns about your child’s wellbeing.

The Northern Ireland Government has announced it is to provide £12.6 million to fund summer holiday food grants this year.

How much will my family get?

Under this new scheme, families in Northern Ireland who have children entitled to free school meals will receive £13.50 per eligible child per week throughout the summer.

The payments will be made between 1 July and 31 August 2002.

Who is eligible for the scheme?

A child will be eligible for the payments if they are entitled to free school meals at the end of June 2022.

Which children are eligible for free school meals?

Children in Northern Ireland are eligible for free school meals if they are in full time education and their parents receive one of the following benefits.

A child is also eligible if their parents don’t get one of these benefits, but they have a statement of special educational needs and is designated to require a special diet. A child is also eligiblewhere you are an Asylum Seeker supported by the Home Office Asylum Support Assessment Team (ASAT).  

To apply for free school meals if you have not already done so, visit www.eani.org.uk

Related information

Read more about help with education costs, help with money and debt and benefits and tax credits.

Find out more about our team in Northern Ireland.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at question 1 of the SEND review consultation to help you tell the government what you think about its plans for the SEND system in England. This week we take a more in-depth look at question 4 in chapter 2 of the government’s consultation which is about its proposals for Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes your child’s special educational, health and social care needs. It explains the extra help that will meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life. The governments SEND Review Green paper proposes that there should be a new standardised and digitised EHCP process and template to minimise bureaucracy and deliver consistency.

A standard EHC Plan could help make meeting a child or young person’s special educational, health and social care needs a smoother process. Digitising EHC plans may also help cut down on environmentally un-friendly paperwork and make it easier for specialist schools and colleges who work with a number of Local Authorities, each of which has their own EHC plan format.

Question 4  of the SEND Review Green Paper consultation asks:

“What components of the EHCP should we consider reviewing or amending as we move to a standardised and digitised version?” To answer this question, you might like to think about:

This question also gives you an opportunity to tell the government more about what you think about EHC plans such as:

If you think there should be specific standards for reports for EHC needs assessments including social care?

If there should be a national standard for the annual review process?

Whether there be a requirement to discuss ceasing the plan at every review?

What the timescales should be for issuing a draft amended plan following an annual review?

Read more about the SEND Green Paper Review on our webpage.

The government has now opened a public consultation on the proposals set out in the green paper.

You have until the 22 July to have your say by responding to the consultation. There are 22 questions in the SEND Review green paper consultation, and you can respond to as many or as few of these as you like – so don’t worry if you can’t complete all 22 questions.

All carers in Scotland who were getting Carer’s Allowance on 11 April 2022 will receive a lump sum payment of £245.70 from Social Security Scotland during the coming week. 

The supplement is an extra payment, paid twice a year, to people in Scotland who get Carer’s Allowance. You don’t need to apply for the supplement as it is paid automatically to Carer’s Allowance recipients.

Most people will receive their payment today, Friday 10 June, but some people may have to wait a few more days. If you’re eligible, you will receive a letter notifying you a payment has been made.

If you think you qualify but have still not received a letter or payment by Friday 17 June, call Social Security Scotland for free on 0800 182 2222.

Find our more about Carer’s Allowance, benefits you might be entitled to and welfare benefits in Scotland.


Eligible families who make a call to the Family Finances team on our helpline are better off by an average £97 a week, the findings of our latest impact report show.

In total in 2021/22, we increased eligible household incomes by £439,000 by helpling families claim the benefits they’re entitled to, but didn’t know how or hadn’t been able to claim.

And our Family Finances support isn’t just our helpline. We ran 31 benefits workshops, three benefits-themed Facebook Q&As, published podcast episodes and a Disability Living Allowance webinar and kept our benefits webpages updated with the latest Covid-19 changes.

“An amazing service. I wasn’t able to get advice locally and in contrast your advice was so detailed. You’re the most helpful person that I have spoken to all year.”

After a callback from our Family Finances team:

“What a great service. I am amazed at the information I’ve been given. I had no idea I was missing out. I had just phoned about getting a bursary and to be told I can get an extra £300 pm in benefits is amazing. You make such a big difference.”

Our impact report shows that for every £1 invested in our Family Finances helpline service, we generate £4.78 for families with disabled children.

Donate £10 today and your donation could help fund vital services like our Family Finances helpline, increasing eligible households’ income by almost £50.

An increasing number of parents are being fined for their child’s non-attendance at school – amounting to £3.7 million in fines so far in this school year, according to a report by the BBC.

Contact knows from calls to our helpline that there are a number of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who struggle with attendance or are on part-time timetables. We saw an 8% increase in calls to our SEN helpline on attendance issues in the six months up to March.

Children with disabilities and health conditions have historically had more absences from school for a number of reasons: health issues, lack of support in school, waiting for a suitable school place, waiting for a first or updated Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), as well as being subject to higher rates of exclusion and illegal exclusion. But the pandemic added to this.

Una Summerson, Head of Policy at Contact, said: “The disruption of the pandemic is continuing to impact the school attendance of children with disabilities and health conditions.

“Children with special educational needs may have struggled more than others to get back into a normal pattern of school or may have found it physically challenging to manage a full day after so long off. In some cases children need access to therapies or mental health support, as well as quick processing of assessments of need to help them get back into school. Parents cannot be fined if a child is off for a genuine medical absence. Schools must authorise an absence where a child is ill or has a medical appointment.”

Help and advice on attendance issues

Our website has advice on absence from school, going back to school after absence, information about fines for non-attendance and more.

You can also find information about getting help with your child’s medical needs and the duties schools have to support pupils with health conditions.

We were blown away by the incredible support we received from families throughout our successful Out of Energy campaign.

Our campaign called on the government for targeted support for disabled households to help with soaring energy bills. Last week, the Chancellor unveiled new measures to help UK households, including support for disabled households. 

Parent Emma is part of our campaigner network and worked with us to make this happen. She said: “I am so honoured to have been part of the Out of Energy campaign. I’m so happy speaking out in the media, and your campaign has made such a positive change for disabled children. You’ve done an amazing job. Thank you again.”

But our campaign doesn’t end here. Last week, the Chief Executive of Ofgem Jonathan Brearley said the energy price cap could rise to £2,800 in October. However, our research found that many families with disabled children are already facing bills of that size.

Without better support now and in the longer-term, families could find the gains from the government’s latest support package wiped out.

Families making the case for more support

Thousands of you showed your support for our Out of Energy campaign by signing our letter to the Chancellor. Many of you spoke on TV, radio and to newspaper journalists, highlighting why disabled households have unavoidably high energy costs.

Parent carers like Amy Jonson from Cardiff. Amy is a sandwich carer for her elderly mum and son Jayden, aged 10, who has Cerebral Palsy. She says she has always been good at budgeting, but is struggling to manage these unprecedented rises in energy costs.

Amy says: “My son has cerebral palsy and needs electrical equipment for his care and to take part in everyday life – electric hoists, bed, wheelchair and communication devices. We would be at a complete loss without this equipment.

“On top of that Jayden, can’t regulate his body temperature. When he is home and it’s cold, we need the heating on. That means a third of my income is goes on energy costs. There is very little help. The predicted costs in October could be very serious for us and many other families in a similar situation.”

There is nothing more to cut back on

Kerry Richmond from Suffolk is mum to Oscar, aged 12, who has a rare genetic disorder and complex health needs. She told us: “Equipment we have plugged in or on charge all the time include a hoist and chair lift, standing frame, feeding pump, SATs monitor and Epilepsy monitor. Oscar has an electric changing bed so a spare battery is on charge for that. Two years ago we were paying £250 per month, and that’s been creeping up and up.

“Our bill for February-March this year was £436. It’s frightening, and we are really worried. Oscar needs a daily bath. We are washing him in what feels like a puddle, because we dare not fill the bath too full. There is nothing more we can cut back on.”

Join our campaign network and help us call for longer-term support

We are pleased that the Chancellor has finally acknowledged the extra costs disabled households face.

But families we support still face worrying times, and one-off measures won’t be enough in the longer term. There’s a danger that any gains made could be wiped out if a family with a disabled child has to claim Universal Credit, which for 100,000 families will mean being worse of by more than £1,800 a year as a result of the 50% cut to the lower child disability addition.

We will continue to call for continuing financial support for families with disabled children. Join our campaigner network to be the first to hear about opportunities to take part in our campaign activities.

Help with energy costs

If you need advice on paying your fuel bills check out our webpage on help with utility costs.

The Chancellor has today announced a package of measures aimed at helping UK households with the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills.  

This follows months of tireless campaigning by Contact and families on the extra costs facing families with disabled children.

The package of help announced includes:  

For more information on each of these measures, read the government’s Cost of Living Support Package factsheet.

This extra support will be partly funded by a new windfall tax on gas and oil companies. The temporary Energy Profits Levy at a rate of 25% is expected to raise £5 billion in the first 12 months.

Amanda Batten, CEO at Contact, said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has finally acknowledged the extra costs facing households due disability such as those who rely on life-saving equipment. We would like to thank all our supporters and charity partners for backing our Out of Energy campaign that called on government to give more financial help to disabled households.

“Calls to our helpline have become increasingly desperate over recent months as the cost of living crisis hits disabled households the hardest. The measures announced today should give families some respite. However, we know that many families still face a worrying time as prices continue to rise. We will look at the measures announced today in more detail and continue to campaign for better financial support for families with disabled children.”

We’ve taken a closer look at the SEND Review Green Paper – a discussion document which sets out the government’s plans to improve the SEND system in England. Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight some of the key proposals in the Green Paper to help you tell the government what you think about them so they can make changes.

How to respond

The government has now opened a public consultation on the proposals set out in the green paper. You have until the 22 July to have your say by responding to the consultation. Although there are 22 questions in the SEND Review green paper consultation, you can respond to as many or as few of these as you like – so don’t worry if you can’t complete all 22 questions.

Question 1 looks at the government’s proposal to create a new set of national standards for SEND provision

The main government proposals for change are set out in Chapter 2 of the SEND Review green paper.

One of the main government proposals in the green paper (chapter 2 paragraphs 4-6) page 27) is about creating a new set of national standards for SEND provision spanning early years settings through to further education and covering education, health and care. The standards will include how to identify and assess children’s needs, what sort of provision should be available in each area for different types of need, and how children with SEND should access support in mainstream schools.

The government believes creating new national standards for SEND provision would give greater consistency in how needs are identified and supported because at the moment, the lack of clarity about what is supposed to be happening for children and young people with SEND, leaves local authorities and education settings with too much freedom to make their own decisions. This means that people’s experiences can be very different depending on where they live.

Question 1 in the government’s consultation asks what you think about its proposal to create a new set of national standards for SEND provision. You might want think about:

Read more about the SEND Green Paper Review on our webpage.

An alternative way for you to respond

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) have launched a parent carer survey on the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper consultation. They are encouraging responses from as many parent carers as possible to make sure that their views and voices are heard.

You can complete the survey using this link: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J63QX22. It should take between 10-15 minutes to complete and is open until 30 June. The responses from the survey will be used to inform the NNPCF’s response to the SEND and AP Green Paper consultation.

We’ve lined up some more of our popular free workshops for parents who care for a child aged 5 or under this June and July.

Our workshops are currently all online and cover a wide range of topics of interest to parent carers with a younger child including toilet training, early years entitlements, speech & language, anxiety, encouraging positive behaviour, helping your young child sleep and educational support for young children with additional needs.

“The first workshop I went to was Contact’s Early Years Entitlements one and I loved it so much and found it so useful that I booked up for all the other workshops that were available!”

Gemma Diggins’ youngest child, 4 year old Ethan, has a number of medical conditions including Down Syndrome. She told us about the confidence boost attending some of our early years workshops has given her.

“Before Ethan was born we knew that he was going to have Down Syndrome and a heart condition. We now know that he has 9 different conditions and we see 21 different medical professionals at 5 different hospitals. I found out about Contact through the charity’s supportive Facebook Group. We were going through the EHC Plan process at the time and I wanted to be absolutely sure I knew what he was entitled to and how I could support Ethan. The first parent workshop I went to was Contact’s Early Years Entitlements one and I loved it so much and found it so useful that I booked up for all the other workshops that were available!

“The Contact team running the workshops has lived experience of caring for a child with additional needs and an amazing passion for their job which shines through. They share so much useful information – I’ve been raving about them to everyone I meet! And I haven’t used it yet, but I plan to use Contact’s Listening Ear service very soon too. I’ve also attended the workshop about education because I want Ethan to go to a special needs school, as well as the workshop about handling meetings. I absolutely loved that one because it gave some really valuable advice and ideas about things I hadn’t even thought about before, simple things like taking someone with you to your meetings with professionals to take notes for example. I can also recommend the behaviour workshop. And the speech and language workshop really helped me understand that it’s OK if Ethan is non verbal as long as he can communicate with us in other ways.  

“All the workshops I’ve been to have given me confidence and the knowledge to move forward and not feel so alone. I’d just like to say thank you! I was struggling until I found Contact and at last, I feel like things are slotting into place.”

Find out more about our early years workshops and book your place today.

Find out more about all our workshops and events.

Our early years information and advice for parent carers

Take a look at our webpages to help you, your family and your child through the early years of their life.

We are telling the government not to ask disabled households to repay their energy bills rebate, as part of a technical consultation on its Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS).

The EBSS means electricity customers receive a £200 reduction off their bills from October 2022. This will be recovered over five years from 2023-2024.

The government is running the consultation because it wants to hear ideas from energy suppliers, charities and consumer advocacy groups on the scheme’s processes and mechanisms. This includes how the rebate is passed onto customers from energy companies, and how the government will recover the rebate.

As we outline in our Out of Energy campaign, we don’t think disabled households should have to repay the £200 rebate, and we’ll be responding to the consultation saying so.

Families with disabled children reliant on life-saving electrical equipment are already paying £600 a year more for their energy. And with families expecting to pay higher-than-average energy bills of more than £3,000 this year, 40% fear that the consequences — such as turning off heating and reducing the use of vital aids — will worsen their child’s condition.

Join our call for more support

We’ve written an open letter to the Chancellor and Energy Minister calling on his government to do more to help disabled households with energy costs.

We want: 

Need help with your utility bills?

There is help available, so make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to. 

It is also worth checking our energy-saving tips to see if you can decrease the amount of energy you use

And if you are struggling with finances and debt, try our online benefits calculator or our online grants search

The Department for Education has published new accessible versions of the SEND review (special educational needs and disabilities) Green Paper.

These include:

All resources are available on gov.uk.

If you would like a Braille or audio version of the green paper or an accessible format that is not listed, email SENDreview.consultation@education.gov.uk.

To give everyone the opportunity to take part in the consultation, they have extended the consultation period by three weeks to 22 July 2022.

Tell the government what you think

The government published its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Green Paper in March. You can now respond with your views.

The government wants to know what parent carers, children and young people, professionals and other stakeholders like Contact think about its proposals. This will help shape how a new SEND system will work in the future.

The SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper is a large document, but you can read the summary of the Green Paper. You don’t have to respond to every question in the consultation. A summary of the Green Paper is also available in the following languages: Punjabi (Gurmukhi);  Polish and Urdu.

The SEND review Green Paper is split into key areas in the SEND system that need change. Proposals include:

Take a look at our SEND review Green Paper and consultation webpage for more information.

The government has published a discussion paper and call for evidence as part of developing a 10 year-plan for mental health and wellbeing support for England.

We think that the plan should have clear focus on mental health support for disabled children and their families.  This has never been more important given the disproportional impact of the pandemic on this group.

A clear focus on disabled children and families

Our research before the pandemic shows that despite having a referral – which can be a battle in itself – a third of disabled children wait over a year to get access to the mental health services. Even when they do access mental health services, they are less likely to have their psychiatric and developmental needs recognised, understood and addressed.   

For many children, accessing child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is often the first step in getting a diagnosis for disabilities such as autism and ADHD.

We also know that most parent carers experience mental ill health such as anxiety or depression. Research from the Disabled Children’s Partnership found that parents’ level of depression were significantly higher than the general population during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What’s the government asking your views about?  

This discussion paper is asking people:

How to respond

The easiest way to participate in the call for evidence is by completing the online survey by 11:45pm on 7 July 2022.

You can also share your views with us by sending an email to Amanda.elliot@contact.org.uk, and we will include them as evidence.

The deadline for responses is 7 July 2022

Need advice on mental health?

Read our information on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

You can also visit our page on coping with stress.

If you need someone to talk to, book a listening ear appointment to talk to someone who understands.

We are delighted to let you know that the Department for Education (DfE) has awarded Contact and partners National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF), Council for Disabled Children and KIDS, a new contract to make sure parent carers, children and young people are involved in the delivery of SEND services and provision in England and have access to information advice and support.

The DfE funding means that over the next three years Contact will continue to work with 152 parent carer forums in England to make sure their voices are heard at a local, regional and national level. The new contract which starts this month, also enables us to continue our support offer to families with disabled children through our online information and national helpline.

The Council for Disabled Children will continue to support the Information, Advice and Support Network and will, alongside KIDS be supporting children and young people’s participation in local, regional and national policy and practice.

Gail Walshe, Contact’s director of participation says: “It’s great that The DfE continues to recognise the importance of having parent carers, children and young people at the heart of shaping disabled children’s services, the invaluable support of our online and helpline advice service and local SEND Information, Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS).  

“Contact has acted as the delivery partner to the DfE to support parent carer forums since 2008. Our new contract enables us to build on this and to also reach even more parent carers with our high-quality impartial information and advice. We look forward to working jointly with our consortium partners to improve the links between parent carer and children and young people’s forums so that more children and young people have an active voice in decision-making in their local areas.”

Contact will lead the work carried out by the consortium in this new contract which aims to:

Children and Families Minister Will Quince said:“Contact and their partners do fantastic work to make sure parent carers and young people are directly involved in how local SEND services work for them.

“This new government contract and grant funding, of over £17 million for three years, will support Contact’s work and make sure parents and young people’s voices continue to be heard at a local, regional and national level.

“Together we can make sure that all parents and carers, regardless of their child’s needs, have access to the advice and support they need to better succeed in life.”

How Contact supports parent carer forums

Contact helps to empower 152 parent carer forums and their membership of over 97,000 parent carers across England, to influence local, regional and national services and legislation. Find out more about our parent participation work and parent carer forums.

About our information and advice service

Our national information and advice service includes our website, social media channels, telephone helpline and live chat. Last year our helpline-online advice provided advice to 10,644 families, with invaluable information on a range of issues including financial support and getting help for a child in school. Find out more about our helpline and online advice service.