Government report finds Local Authorities are failing children during EHCP process
Space4Autism recently held a very well attended Q & A session for members with local MP David Rutley, where difficulties encountered with the Education and Health Care Plan ( EHCP) process in Cheshire East, were one of the top concerns brought to Mr Rutley’s attention. Many parents and carers at the meeting, held at the Tytherington Club, expressed frustration and disillusionment with the EHCP process and the way it is handled by the Local Authority.
Coincidently, two weeks after the meeting with Mr Rutley, a report published by the LGSCO on the common issues seen in its first 100 investigations into complaints about Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP), echoed the experiences of families in Cheshire East. The LGSCO ( The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman) is the final stage for complaints about councils, all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) and some other organisations providing local public services. It is a free service and it investigates complaints in a fair and independent way, without taking sides. ( For further info and how to make a complaint see:
The introduction of EHC plans in September 2014, under the new Children and Families Act, intended to provide a more holistic approach to supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Unfortunately, as many parents and carers of children with ASD in Cheshire East will have experienced, the reality on the ground is very different. Many of the complaints made to the LGSCO reflect this, as they demonstrate a lack of joined-up working between education, health and social care and vast differences in the quality of drawn up EHCP’s.
The issues identified in the report are widespread and commonplace and local Space4Autism families affected by the EHCP process have reported similar difficulties as those experienced by the families who took their complaints to the LGSCO. One overriding feature are delays to the assessment process and failure to comply with statutory timescales.
This often leaves children and young people without a suitable education, and denies parents and carers a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. If you are or have been affected by the LA’s failings with regards to your child’s EHCP assessment, you will be able to empathise with the stories highlighted in the LGSCO report, which is available to download here:
Whilst caring for children with additional needs and disabilities is already very challenging for families, having to take on the Local Authority and fight for their child’s rights does place an additional burden on families caring for someone with ASD. It is commendable that the families whose experiences fed into this LGSCO report still found the strength and time to make complaints to the LGSCO! The complaints helped to highlight LA’s failings and will hopefully bring about change for our children with ASD. With the report being based on just the first 100 complaints received by the Ombudsman, it is clear that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg here.