Leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell  has published a series of factsheets and launched a dedicated web page to provide advice and support to families and those who support them about the reforms introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014.
The Act, which comes into force on 1 September 2014, has been billed as the biggest reform to child welfare legislation in 30 years. It introduces changes to special educational needs (SEN), health and social care, and will impact on all children and young people with SEN who are under 25 years of age.
Irwin Mitchell has teamed up with deaf/blind charity Sense and Steve Broach, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, to design legal training for ‘Independent Supporters’ – a government-funded programme to provide support to families who have children with special educational needs and need additional advice on the reforms.
As part of this project, Irwin Mitchell and its partners have prepared a series of factsheets which provide an overview on some of the most important features of the reforms, including details on the new assessment process, education, health and care plans, personal budgets and direct payments, schools’ duties and challenging decisions.
Template letters have also been produced which parents and guardians, and those supporting them, can use when making requests for assessments or support under the new system.
Polly Sweeney, associate solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s public law department, said: “We are delighted to be able to publish this set of factsheets and template letters. We hope that they will prove to be a valuable resource for parents and families who are trying to navigate their way through these legal reforms.
“If implemented properly, Part 3 of the Children and Families Act offers a real opportunity to improve provision and outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities and ensure that there is genuine co-production and collaborative working between local authorities and parents and young people, and that they are able to participate in decisions as fully as possible.
“For this to be successful, we feel it is essential that families are empowered as much as possible with the information and tools that they need to work with local authorities effectively in transferring to the new system. These factsheets and template letters are a small contribution to achieving that goal. We plan to update them as the new system is implemented and any feedback from families on how we can make them as useful as possible for others is welcomed.”
The downloadable leaflets and template letters are available from Irwin Mitchell’s website .