How we support forums in England

5 mins read

We are the delivery partner of the Department for Education in supporting parent carer participation in England. 

Read our latest annual review (2019-20) to find out how Contact supported parent carer forums last year, and about the impact that forums have on services in their areas. 

Read our last annual report (2018-19) to find out how Contact have supported parent carer forums this year, and about the impact forums make to local services. 

Contact’s core offer for 2020-21 to parent carer forums 

Contact offers the support below to parent carer forums. 

(Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some things may be subject to change – some face to face regional network meetings, planned face to face training or even the annual conference may need to be modified. Nobody is sure just yet how long the virus will affect us all. Contact and forums will need to diversify this year, move to virtual support, be flexible and to keep assessing what is possible through the year. If any forum is experiencing difficulties or would like support with anything that might have been impacted by the pandemic, please get in touch with your adviser.) 

  • Supporting the work of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums and working in partnership with the NNPCF on national projects. 
  • named parent carer participation adviser for each forum able to offer telephone and email advice and support, and face to face support if necessary. 
  • Support and advice to forums in relation to the grant process and completion of forms. Management of the grant process including grant application approval and grant monitoring approval
  • Management of the discretionary grant processes (subject to money being available). 
  • An annual event hosted by Contact and the NNPCF which is open to all parent carer forums – Covid-19 permitting; we will explore other options with the NNPCF if necessary. 
  • At least eight webinars over the course of the year on the topics that forums tell us that they need most – please keep feeding in your suggestions for key subject – these may be different this year as forums’ and families’ needs and priorities will be different. 
  • NEW! – CiC Assistance Programme for all forums to access telephone and face to face counselling, financial and legal helplines, family care advice and signposting, wellbeing portal, support for managers (for forums with staff), guidance on HR issues, policies and procedures, ‘everyday matters’ information sourcing, whistle-blowing support. 
  • Subscription for all forums to Community Matters, who provide legal and technical advice, information and support to help with governance and legal issues 
  • Website and online resources. We will keep our webpages up to date and offer resources, example policies and good practice examples for parent carer forums. 
  • Support and attendance at regional network or cluster meetings – this may be virtually until the immediate Covid-19 lockdown relaxes. 
  • Regular news and updates on the issues that matter to forums including good practice examples, consultations, follow-up information, changes to legislation, training, events etc. 
  • Information and resources to support forums’ engagement with health partners locally, and routes to provide feedback on their experiences to NHS England and other national health bodies, via our Strategic Health Lead. 
  • Leadership training a combination of online, webinar and face to face training for two cohorts of forum leaders. 
  • Seldom Heard toolkit the continued development of a peer reviewed self-evaluation toolkit for parent carer forums to help forums to reach out further into their communities. 
  • Annual report on strengthening the parent carer participation movement. 

Contact’s enhanced offer of support to forums experiencing challenges: 

  • Intensive support through our associate pool or mediators when significant issues arise. Associates can support with a wide range of issues.  If you’d like to see an example of Associate support please take a look at this webinar from Parent Carer Voice Herefordshire about how an Associate supported them to embed Coproduction in their area. Do contact your Parent Carer Participation Adviser if you’d like to know more about getting support from an Associate. 
  • Support to forums’ strategic partners including the local authority and health agencies, and raising the profile of participation and co-production amongst these partners. 

Additional paid options: 

  • DARE resilience and wellbeing training to help forum members to balance the challenges of their personal lives and the running of the forum; this course was co-produced with forums last year and is available for forums/regions to purchase this year. 
  • Leadership training a combination of online, webinar and face to face training for forum leaders – we are offering this to two cohorts of forums as part of our core offer, but forums/regions can buy in individually if they wish to. 

Learning and development 

Please go to the learning and events for forums page or email

The Contact and NNPCF parent carer participation newsletter (England) 

Contact and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) produce a joint parent carer participation newsletter.  

This newsletter contains key information about the development of parent carer participation, information about important changes across health services, special education and social care in England, news for local forums, the latest news from the NNPCF and opportunities for forums to participate. Sign up for the parent carer participation joint newsletter. 

Download past versions of the newsletter: