29th April 2020 Covid-19 update

Welcome to HPCI’s latest update for our parent network members around all things Covid 19.  We have selected some of the key available SEND related updates and information.

HPCI has set up Covid pages on our website with all the HPCI Covid related updates that we have sent out so that you don’t have to search through your emails to find them.  Here is the link HPCI Covid 19 Pages

HPCI is still in regular communication with key managers at HCC and is raising issues we hear about with them to try and find solutions or clear answers where possible. HPCI is not solving issues for individual families but rather when we hear about a number of parents and families having the same type of issue then we raise it with HCC.  Nationally parent reps from our umbrella organisation NNPCF are in direct contact with various government departments.

Taking the SEND family temperature – look out for an online survey from HPCI in the next week around how things are working for Hertfordshire SEND families during lockdown.  As always we will gather the responses anonymously and use them to raise issues and experiences with HCC officers to look for solutions or answers.

Government updates

Government clarifies exercise guidance for people with health needs

The government have updated their Coronavirus FAQs with some health advice around daily exercise for people with a disability or additional need. There is a full list of Coronavirus FAQs: what you can and can’t do
If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.  Many of you may not have this evidence so may want to take a copy of DLA award or EHC plan with you in case you are questioned.  Your GP surgery, if they are aware of your child’s needs, may be able to provide a letter for you depending on capacity.

Government updated guidance on Covid 19 and vulnerable CYP

This guidance has been updated to clarify the situation around education settings ie nurseries, schools and colleges as they have been asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children and young people:

  • those who are vulnerable (see below as to which children are included in that)
  • those whose parents/carers are key workers

The government encourages vulnerable children and young people to attend educational settings unless they have underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk.  During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan whose needs cannot be met safely in the home environment
  • have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision

This might include children on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, or those who are young carers, and others at the discretion of the provider and local authority.
Local authorities are being asked by the Government to work with educational providers, families and the child or young person to carry out a risk assessment to judge whether the child or young person’s needs cannot be met safely at home. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an educational setting, it may be more appropriate for them to attend the educational setting. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be safer at home, it may be more appropriate for them to stay at home.
So to be clear – children with an EHC plan do not have the automatic entitlement to go to school during the Covid 19 pandemic lock down as many will be safe or safer at home.
We realise that the longer the situation continues then the more challenging a number of SEND families will find it to cope at home and we are seeking clarification with HCC around what families should do in that situation.  We will update as soon as possible.

National information    
is the national partner organisation for parent carer forums like HPCI and also to the Government for providing information, support and advice to SEND families.  They have dedicated web pages about Coronavirus  Covid-19 (coronavirus) webpages.  Again, worth checking each week for updates. Here are some key things Contact has:

Information on online food shopping: Online Food Shopping for families of disabled children

Contact Job Retention Scheme Facebook Q&A – This Thursday 30th April 10am to 12 noon.
If you have caring responsibilities which mean you can’t work, you can ask your employer if they are willing to furlough you under the government’s new Job Retention Scheme. If they agree you should be able to get 80% of your wages met by the government. To answer any questions you might have about this or the help available for self employed carers Contact are holding a Q & A Facebook session on Thursday 30 April from 10am -12 noon when our Family Finance advisers will be waiting to help. Join them this Thursday on Facebook, and look out for the  special thread on the day where you can post your questions.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opened to applications by employers last week. Contact’s financial advisor Derek Sinclair has produced a podcast to explain more about it which you can find here:
Job Retention Scheme Podcast     Contact produces a number of podcasts on finance, benefits and other topics over a number of platforms find them via these links: Apple Podcasts/iTunes; Google Podcasts; Spotify; Overcast; Pocket Casts and RadioPublic

Hertfordshire based information and support
HCC’s SEND Local Offer has a Covid 19 page which posts regular updates about national and local SEND service updates and clarifications – check it regularly.  HPCI is involved in looking at those posts and helping make sure they are relevant and accessible.  SEND Local Offer Covid page
You will also find a link to resources to help you with home education during the Covid pandemic.

SENDIASS (special educational needs and/or disabilities information, advice and support service).  Every local authority has, by law, to have this service which before the SEND Reforms in 2014 was called Parent Partnership and only covered education.  Now the service covers social care, health, short breaks and education.  The service is still open but cannot currently hold face to face meetings with families due to Covid 19 but you can still ring or email the service on:  01992 555847 or email sendiass@hertfordshire.gov.uk
Website: www.hertssendiass.org.uk

KIDS Hubs are also still operating.
Their two offices are closed to visitors but they are still supporting parents.  Get in touch by ringing 01992 504013 / 01923 676549 or email  hub.herts@kids.org.uk

Video around why people are wearing PPE 

Here is a link to a simply made U tube video locally (endorsed by HCC) that aims to help people with a learning disability understand why people who help them may be wearing PPE. This offers an alternative means communication.  https://youtu.be/oCLZS7gGoLM

Herts Help
Families who are shielding and are struggling to get food or medicines can contact Herts Help to discuss the situation and what support can be arranged.
Contact Herts Help on: 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net

School Nursing Service – useful for your non-SEND children aged 11-19 years
They offer a ChatHealth service offering support, advice and guidance to 11 to 19 year olds. They can text from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and a School Nurse will respond that day, usually within the hour.  There is also a Health for Teens website.