Communication with Senior Leaders at Shropshire Council and Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System about reduction in Short Break Provision for SEND Families – 14th July 2022
Below is a copy of the communication PACC sent to Shropshire Council and Shropshire & Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System following concerns raised about the reduction in holiday support for families at Severndale Academy. We have since received a reply from Tanya Miles the Director of the People Directorate at Shropshire Council, informing us that the Local Authority were only informed about this situation late yesterday and they are urgently trying to identify solutions. Severndale Senior Leadership have also been in touch, thanking us for bring this situation to their attention, recognising this gap in support and committing to working with all partners to improve the situation.
PACC will continue to highlight the importance of Short Break support for all SEND families and will share any further information on this topic as it is received.
‘We are writing to highlight concerns about the significant reduction in holiday support for families whose children and young people attend Severndale Academy. Families were notified of this reduction by letter today 14th July, with many families having their request for 6 whole days (the usual allocation) over the 6-week holiday period, to 2 half days. Within a short period, we saw 45 comments on Severndale Parents Voice Facebook group and 14 comments on Friends of Severndale group, including;
- half days are no good if you need to work. By the time I would get home I would have to set off again.
- I do need to go to work, I also need to spend time with my other child. Same here, it’s a total waste of time! I can’t get head round it.
- Support for SEND families is really at crisis point in Shropshire. All I see is a lot of people talking whilst the provision gets progressively worse.
- We received ours today, we fully understand the staffing issues but unfortunately what they have offered us is not going to be any help whatsoever
- I think the other problem is that if you don’t live in Shrewsbury, for many who live rurally, it’s just not going to be worth bringing them in to Shrewsbury for a few hours.
- We live right in the edge of Shropshire and for three hours it just isn’t worth it.
- I am shocked at how little there is available for Special need kids, literally nothing!!! This really has to change they are being excluded from society and it’s so wrong
On the 13th July PACC met with DCT and Action For Children (who run the holiday scheme and summer outreach sessions) to discuss staff challenges at Bradbury house and how this would result in a reduced overnight offer to families during August and September, unfortunately the impact on the holiday scheme and outreach was not discussed. It is disappointing that this issue has only come to light at this late stage and earlier discussion were not held.
Today PACC also received an email about the HAF scheme asking us to help promote the offer to families, however after discussion with the programme lead it is clear that this offer is not accessible to many children with SEND, even where they qualify by being in receipt of free school meals.
PACC as a member of the Actio Consortium has for some time been highlighting that there is a major gap in the Shropshire Short Break provision for those children and young people who need 1:1 or specialist support. We have discussed on several occasions with service leads how the families of these children and young people are often incorrectly signposted, by Shropshire Council staff, to Actio and All In, being wrongly told that this offer can meet their needs. In discussions with the HAF programme lead it is clear that this programme has faced a similar challenge, with them having to turn away many families of children and young people with complex needs. Families have told us that being incorrectly told that there is support for their family, to then be told that there isn’t, is extremely disheartening and distressing, yet it continues to happen.
We understand that the care sector is currently facing significant difficulties around recruitment of staff and that is presenting challenges for everyone. We do feel however that this situation is being further exacerbated by a lack of joined up working by all those involved in providing support to the families impacted. For example, HAF, a programme which should be fully accessible to the SEND community, has been developed with very little input from the Shropshire SEND sector, resulting in even children and young people who receive free school meals at Severndale Academy not being able to access this programme. The lack of join up between HAF and All In also means that the providers who work across both schemes are having to manage duplicate administrative loads and more worryingly families who can access both offers, are having to complete multiple application forms and repeatedly share their stories.
This is a time when it is essential that we pool our resources across the statutory and voluntary sector. We know from previous discussions that the new head at Severndale is committed to ensuring that families receive the support they need, in and out of school. We feel that opportunities have been missed to address the current issue with holiday provision by not speaking to Severndale about any potential capacity in their staff and facilities to enhance the AFC offer. It may not have been possible this year, but it should have been explored.
We are now asking for your help to address this situation. Firstly, please consider if anything can be done in the short term to address the extremely difficult situation that Severndale families are facing this holiday period. Is there any way further support can be provided for these families and the children and young people they support? If we continue to place families under this sort of pressure that we will only see an increase in need and families going into crisis.
Secondly can we please plan ahead for the future: bringing together all those active in this area, for an open and honest conversation early in September 2022, to discuss how we can work in partnership to ensure these families receive the support they desperately need.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the commentary above.’
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