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What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments and plans are being introduced to better define a child's or young person’s needs. In Bristol the Single Assessment Framework is being extended to include the EHC plan. This means families will only tell their story once and professionals will share knowledge.

The EHC plan is an exciting new way of working that puts you – children, young people and families – at the very centre of the assessment and planning process, to make sure that your views are not only heard but also understood. This is called person centred planning and is all about increasing your choice and control.

This new process focuses on what is important for children and young people – what they and you want to achieve now and in the future. Young people and families have helped to design the plan and so far people are saying that they feel more listened to and more involved in decision-making in ways that make sense to them.

Who is it for?

The EHC plan is for children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities and where an assessment of education, health and social care needs has been agreed by a multi-agency group of professionals. It is available from birth to age 25. The new plans will be introduced from 1 September 2014 and transitional arrangements for children with existing statements will be in place until 2017.

What’s different about an Education, Health and Care assessment?

An Education, Health and Care assessment looks at life beyond education and brings the different services together. The local authority is responsible for ensuring that assessments are effectively co-ordinated. It is planned that in future the EHC assessment and plan will replace the statutory assessment and statement of special educational needs (SEN) process. The EHC assessment and planning process needs to be completed in 20 weeks, whereas the statutory assessment (which may lead to a statement of SEN) needs to be completed in 26 weeks.

How does it work?

At the start of the assessment, you and your child or the young person will have the  opportunity to say what’s working, what’s not working and what you think needs to change. A facilitator will help you with this.

At the same time a coordinator will gather information from the other people involved and arrange a meeting for you all to agree the outcomes and how you think they can best be met. Remember that this is all about a partnership between you and the professionals involved to make the right decisions for you as a family.

The whole process lasts for 20 weeks. The EHC plan will identify what support you might be eligible for to meet the agreed outcomes. The plan will be clear about how much things cost and will have agreed timescales to make sure that it is updated and reviewed regularly, for example annually. The plan will go with your child or the young person as they change services, change schools and also when they leave school and go on to college, work-related training or employment.

What are our statutory rights?

Your rights do not change and you will still have the right to appeal in line with current statutory arrangements. Support and advice is available throughout the process from the Parent Partnership Service.

How might this affect the support my child or young person receives?

The EHC assessment and planning process is designed to focus on agreeing individual outcomes and the support to achieve these will be tailored to each child's or young person’s range of needs. This could include helping families to make best use of support available – from the services available in the local offer, from the local community, or provided by statutory services where applicable.

Introducing personal budgets

A personal budget is one of the ways of giving you more choice and control about the way your child is supported.

Sometimes the money being spent on services can be freed up and used in different, more creative ways to meet the outcomes. It may mean that you can organise your own services and be given the money to do that.

The way your personal budget is spent will be agreed with you and set out in the EHC plan. Anything you use it for must meet the child's or young person’s assessed health, education and social care needs.

Some people may use their personal budget to buy the same service; others may use it on different support or other services.

If you have an EHC plan, your facilitator will discuss this with you so that we can agree what is best.

What is the ‘local offer’?

As part of the reforms, all local authorities must develop a ‘local offer’ for young people and families of children with SEND.

The purpose of the local offer is to:

  • Provide clear, comprehensive and accessible information about the support and opportunities that are available for all children and young people with SEND and their families (not just those who have an EHC plan); and
  • Improve the services that are provided and make them more responsive to local needs and wishes.