8th April 2020 Covid-19 Update

This update contains information that is national, local and about resources for use at home.

National Information

1. Finance – courtesy of Contact.

Government clarifies furlough rules New guidance issued by the government makes clear that employees who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities can be furloughed by their employer. The revised guidance is available at the gov.uk website.

Recovery of benefits overpayments, tax credits debts and Social Fund loans paused

To help low income families during the coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that it is pausing recovering any benefit overpayments, tax credit debts or social fund loans for a three-month period. Recovery of Universal Credit advance payments will still continue as normal. Visit Contact’s page on coronavirus and welfare benefits, for the latest updates.

Carer’s Allowance during the Coronavirus outbreak

The government has changed the Carer’s Allowance rules during the Coronavirus outbreak. During the Coronavirus outbreak the government has said that a break in caring can be ignored  if it is caused by either the disabled person or their carer having Coronavirus symptoms.

  1. The Department for Education has launched online educational resources for schools and parents to help children to learn at home. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources

    They have brought together an initial list of online educational resources to help children to learn at home which are free.  These websites have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts and offer a wide range of support and resources for pupils of all ages.  The list includes subject specific resources for English, Math, Science, PE, wellbeing and SEND.

    3. The Council for Disabled Children (CDC), following the Minister’s request, has launched two new email inboxes aimed to answer questions, collate resources and share information on Coronavirus and the impact on children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). They are designed to be used by professionals, practitioners, parent carers and families of children and young people with SEND.
    The new ‘CDC questions’ inbox, CDCquestions@ncb.org.uk, provides the opportunity to ask questions about how Coronavirus will impact on children and young people with SEND as well as other questions relating to the impact on families; the education, health, social care sectors; and the voluntary and community sector. CDC will collate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and share them with the Department for Education (DfE) and Ministers as appropriate, in order to publish an FAQs newsflash each Friday.
    If you are a parent carer with a question about your individual circumstances you may be able to find an answer here: https://disabledchildrenspartnership.org.uk/coronavirus/

    4. NHS England have produced a Frequently Asked Questions document which they are updating weekly, you can find this here: https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/nhs-england-nhs-improvement-frequently-asked-questions-faqs

    Hertfordshire information
    HPCI is raising questions and issues with HCC every week and working with them to produce answers and updates that are placed on the SEND Local Offer coronavirus pages.
    1. SEND Local Offer service updates page which has almost daily updates including one on EHC Plans we have just agreed with them. It is worth checking the page every few days. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/local-offer/coronavirus-updates.aspx

    HPCI is also seeking clarity about what is happening with Direct Payments, Free School Meals and other things.  We will let you know when we get answers.

    2. SEND Local Offer resources page lots of resources to help you with activities and learning for your children and young people at home. Access via the SEND Local Offer home page.
    https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/local-offer/the-hertfordshire-local-offer.aspx

    3. HCC Home to School Transport

  • If your son or daughter’s home to school transport is due to end in July 2020, HCC School Transport department will be contacting you by email in April 2020 regarding transport for September 2020. They do not know how long COVID-19 will impact upon normal opening for schools and colleges, but are planning as normal for September and therefore it is important that you complete and return the transport application form by the end of May.  Please send all correspondence and applications via email to schooltransport@hertfordshire.gov.uk.
  1. Herts Help
    Herts Help are coordinating support for all vulnerable people in the county who are struggling to get medication and food during the coronavirus outbreak. This service will aim to help all people who are struggling, not just for those who are self-isolating. This includes families who are struggling because of the needs of their children – whether that be due to shielding a family member with underlying health needs, or due to a child’s unpredictable behaviour in public making it hard to ensure social distancing. For any family who is worried about how they will get food or medication, they can contact Herts Help on 0300 123 4044or email info@hertshelp.net to discuss whether support can be made available.

    5. Local Councils in Herts
    We are also aware that local councils within Hertfordshire are also organising volunteer support for those who need it and this would include families with children and young people with SEND who are struggling due to shielding or being able to safely follow social distancing in shops etc.  One example is Stevenage which has set up a Help Response Team for residents of Stevenage they can be contacted on 01438 242453 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
    All local councils will have details on their websites.

    Resources for activities and learning at home

  1. Contact – a national charity for all types of need which also has up to date finance & benefits information for families  https://contact.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/

They also host Fledglings https://fledglings.org.uk/  which is an online shop that has toys, clothing and sensory products for children and young people with SEND.

  1. Afasic – a national charity for speech, language and communication needs

https://www.afasic.org.uk/resources/free-downloads/schools-and-learning/

They have free downloads with activities to do with your child at home with useful practical advice with games and activities to help children develop skills and language.
There are also free ‘Tips and ideas to help listening and talking’ for both primary and secondary age children.
The Afasic Parents’ Helpline is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10.30 am – 4.00 pm for parents who have any concerns about their child’s speech & language. Outside these times parents can complete an online enquiry form which the helpline staff will use to get back to you.

  1. National Autistic Society https://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus.aspx
  1. The Down’s Syndrome Association

https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

Finally we hope you all have a peaceful and healthy Easter.  HPCI is having a break next week and we will be back on Monday 20th April.