Mark Atkinson, Director of External Affairs here at Scope explains why SENDirect is so needed by families of disabled children.
At Scope, we hear from many families who are struggling to find the right services and support for their disabled child in their local area.
Our research shows that a shocking two-fifths of parents have been unable to access youth clubs, play groups and other local activities for their disabled child.
Finding the right afterschool club, person assistant or childcare shouldn’t be a full time job – but parents tell us it is.
This week I attended the launch of SENDirect, which will revolutionise the way that families with disabled children access services and activities in their local area.
SENDirect is a one stop shop which aims to make it easy for families to:
- See all the services in their local area, including how much they cost and what other families think about them.
- Speak directly to activity providers about how they can include their child.
After the publication of the Support and Aspirations Green Paper in 2011, Scope has been proactively campaigning for councils to have inclusive and accessible universal services that all families can use.
Since the release of the paper, Scope has been a founding member of the SEND consortium and one of nine leading disability organisations working together to develop new products and services that meet the needs of families for SENDirect.
The timing of SENDirect is spot on. Last year the Government brought in a new requirement for councils to develop a ‘local offer’ of all the services and support for disabled children, and young people from birth to age 25.
When councils develop and review their ‘local offers’ they also have to consider the views of parents and young disabled people.
SENDirect puts families in the driving seat – and will help them shape the local market of services. If parents can’t find what they are looking for, the site automatically records the information and makes it available to commissioners or potential providers so they can develop new services.
So far 2,084 services are listed on the site and it’s growing every day. I think it’s an exciting concept and we’re completely behind it. Watch this space.