Despite a global pandemic, 2020 has flown by for Parent Carer Forum Devon. We’ve been really busy but parent carers in Devon won’t know about our work if we don’t talk about it. So we thought it was high time for us to share a bit about what we’ve been up to this year.
Growing the Forum
As a new forum we have been spending some time working on growing our membership, and we are pleased that we now have over 300 members on our Facebook group as well as a mailing list of nearly 200. We have built upon our existing links with DIAS through the Ambassador Volunteer Project which has resulted in more local connections and support for families in Devon. We have hosted some virtual coffee mornings to discuss how to get involved with the forum and as a result we have strengthened the membership of our Steering Group.
If you’d like to get involved with Parent Carer Forum Devon please click below to find out more:
As well as growing the forum, we have been working to represent parent voice through the pandemic by working with education, health and care. We helped to produce communication about direct payments and temporary changes to SEND legislation (timeliness of EHCPs and educational provision detailed within those). We hosted two well attended sessions with parents and senior managers to discuss education and the impact of the pandemic. We worked with the CCG to provide regularly updated SEND related FAQs around health. A further piece of work is our invoivement in decision making and allocation of the short breaks small grants.
During the summer, we shared the impact of the pandemic on families with SEND as part of a series of Devon Children and Families Partnership Workshops.The workshops aimed to understand the impact of Covid-19 and agree future priorities. The events concluded with a joint committment to:
“ensure all children, particularly the most vulnerable are connected to learning, friends, community and seek to build back better.”
The complete findings are due to be published in the New Year.
We have been part of the recruitment process for the SEN 0-25 Team and also in the recruitment for the Chief Officer for Children’s Services. We had the opportunity to personally interview all candidates and feed our opinions back as to how we felt each candidate’s approach to SEND families would be the best one for Devon. The Forum looks forward to welcoming Melissa to Devon and to building a strong working relationship.
More recently we have been involved in the SEND Transformation Project as part of the Steering Group and associated work streams. It’s a really encouraging step for parents to be part of this transformation plan from the very beginning. Over the last year the relationships we have developed within the Devon Child and Families Partnership has resulted in parents having a regular seat at the table. This has ensured that real lived experience is fed into conversations and decisions made by services that have an impact on families of children with SEND.