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Positive outcomes for families following Transforming Care Accelerator project

Tuesday 24th March 2020

Contact has published an evaluation of the Transforming Care Accelerator (phase 1) project to help reduce inappropriate educational exclusions and hospital admissions for children and young people with learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) and/or challenging behaviour.

The evaluation report, Working Together to Support Children and Young People with Autism, evaluates the project which took place in North Cumbria and the North East to show positive changes for many children, young people and their families including:

  • Parent carers said they were better informed and noticed positive changes at home. They felt less isolated and reported improved mental health.
  • Schools were provided with bespoke training, including support with policy development, such as behavioural policies. This led to increased knowledge and resilience for some SENCOs, teachers and senior staff.
  • Feedback suggests schools were making fewer and more appropriate onward referrals, for example to CAMHS.
  • Improved concentration in class was seen by introducing practical tools to support sensory needs and improve childrens' environments. Teaching adjustments meant children experienced less anxiety about day-to-day learning.
  • A peer network for parents and professionals working with SEND children and young people was developed. Many said this was invaluable and key to sustaining progress.

You can read the report, Working Together to Support Children and Young People with Autism.

Co-production was a key feature of developing and delivering the Accelerator project. Parent carer forums were supported by Contact and worked alongside statutory services to help raise awareness of the needs of young people with autism, listen to the voice of young people and their families and to model and implement practical ways 13 mainstream and five specialist schools in the region could improve the experience for young people with autism.

Families and schools collaborated to develop and deliver learning modules such as the autism school programme. Delivered in Durham, Darlington and South Tees the programme aimed to create sustainable networks across schools and enhance knowledge, skills and behaviours through modules including understanding the impact of sensory processing on the child and family and how to engage parent carers in effective person-centred planning.

The North Cumbria and North East region has one of the highest rates of under-18s in inpatient hospital care where the child's learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour is a reason for the admission. Children with autism only, are now the biggest group using inpatient child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) provision. Availability of autism-specific services is a gap in the region's provision, despite pockets of good practice.

This report was commissioned by the Transforming Care Partnership to evaluate Phase 1 of the Accelerator project, to demonstrate the successes and challenges of the programme and to provide rapid learning input to Phase 2 of the programme, running from September 2019 to March 2020.