Guidance for families during COVID-19 outbreak
Last updated: 4 August 2020
This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.
If you or your family receive services, as far as possible, we intend to continue to deliver services where they are needed. We have advised those staff who are able to, to work from home, but to continue to stay in contact with you. This means that whilst our offices will continue to remain open at the moment, they will be running on skeleton teams.
If you have any concerns for either yourself or your family, please do contact your worker directly or their manager if they are not available.
Letter to families from Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director, Children and Young People
Updated: 25 March 2020
A letter explaining how we are proposing to continue to work on both the SEND improvements (as set out in the Written Statement of Action) and our work in supporting families.
Letter from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Updated: 24 March 2020
This is an open letter to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all other carers. The letter details how the government have issued guidance about how they will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during the coronavirus pandemic.
Joint ministerial letter to children and young people with SEND, their families and those who support them
Updated 21 July 2020
Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Care, and Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, have written a joint open letter ahead of the full return to school in England in September.
The letter explains what the government, schools and local authorities are doing to support a safe return to school in September.
This includes providing guidance to schools and other education settings on what they can do to make the physical environment as safe as possible for children, by maintaining social distancing and support bubbles, enhanced hygiene procedures, and processes in place to make sure those with COVID-19 symptoms are kept away from the setting.
Schools will have access to a small number of home-testing kits and if there are any cases where pupils or staff show COVID-19 symptoms they will be supported by their local Public Health England Health Protection Team.
The letter also states that schools and other education settings will be asked to work closely with their local authority and transport providers to make sure there is school transport available for children who need it. The Department for Transport and Public Health England are also currently finalising new guidance for local authorities on providing dedicated school transport which will be published soon.
The Department for Education announced changes to two areas of legislation relating to Education Health and Care needs assessments and Education Health and Care Plans, which came into force on 1 May 2020 and were subsequently reviewed on 1 June and 1 July 2020. The changes were put in place because of the challenges that we are all facing as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus). They relate to:
- timescales for conducting Education Health and Care needs assessments and for drafting Education Health and Care Plans. These changes will be in place until 25 September 2020.
- the extent to which the provision within an Education Health and Care Plan can be arranged during this period of uncertainty. This change was only in place until 31 July.
For more information visit the government website.
While these temporary changes allow local authorities to take longer to complete an assessment or to draft a plan if the reason for this is related to coronavirus, in Kent we are putting in place every measure possible so that this situation doesn’t adversely impact timescales. We might do this work differently than we did in the past, for example have more conversations over the phone or via video link rather than face to face meetings.
Information and support for parents and carers
- Check our service updates page to find out how Kent County Council services have been affected.
- Read our information about looking after the mental health and wellbeing of your family, which includes guidance for parents and carers.
- There are lots of social isolation resources on the IASK website.
- Use a social story about coronavirus.
- Follow Kent PACT on Facebook.
- The Positive Approaches to Support website is for families who care for children, young people or adults with a learning disability or developmental difficulty (including those who are autistic).
- There is information about what you can and can't do on the GOV.UK website.
- Find out about how our short breaks providers have carried on with face-to-face clubs and activities in a safe way.