The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans which provoked some key questions about multi-disciplinary roles and responsibilities.
Although the Children and Families Act does not change the basic statutory scheme governing social care for disabled children, as the key duties remain in the Children Act 1989 section 17 as well as the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act (CSDPA) 1970 section 2, there has been confusion for social care professionals and those leading on the coordination of EHC plans around the roles and responsibilities of Local Authority social care services.
As a result, we have been asked numerous questions about how these statutory responsibilities can work together in practice. This has included:
- Whose role is it to provide social care advice for an EHC assessment?
- What is the role of social workers in EHC assessments and planning?
- How should universal, early help or family/community services and support that are meeting social care needs be represented in EHC assessments and plans?
- How should child protection, child in need and EHC plans work together?
- What information from a child protection plan is appropriate to share?
What we are trying to achieve
We have been working with policy leads, strategic managers, frontline professionals, parent carers and children and young people to develop pragmatic solutions to these questions as well as at times even more complex local practice challenges.
This has included a focus on facilitating professional development of SEND and social care staff, supporting the development and strengthening of relationships between professionals and between professionals and families, providing up to date advice on law and practice, supporting effective decision making through improved confidence and clarity and working with individual practitioners and their teams to develop good practice.
This guidance will have a significant impact on my role in incorporating social care into EHC assessment processes and changing views within social work of the EHC process.