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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information and support for families of children with special educational needs and disabilities

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We know this is a difficult and anxious time for families coping with the worry of the coronavirus pandemic, the changes it has bought to our lives, and the reality of social isolation.   We hope this developing page can provide some virtual support to you and your family.  

 

New Family Hubs

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Coronavirus has changed the way we live, work and learn. 

We know that family life is a little bit harder at the moment, that's why we’ve created 8 hubs of help for families across Staffordshire.

Contact your local Family Hub to:

  • get information, advice and guidance
  • get questions answered
  • link in with local networks of support
  • share ideas for coping with the changes in your lives

Ways to connect with your Family Hub

You can connect with your local Family Hub on Facebook, by phone, text and email

Contact details and links for the Family Hubs.

Local Family Hubs Facebook pages:

Looking for financial support? £37m has been provided to support children with complex needs

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If you are a family with children that have complex needs and disabilities you can receive grants for vital equipment.  The grants aim to make your life easier while implementing social distancing measures.  It includes computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

£10 million of the total has been committed specifically in response to the unique difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, helping parents educate and look after disabled or critically ill children who are staying at home more than usual.

The grants will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of equipment, goods or services - from washing machines and refrigerators to sensory and educational equipment.

The grants are typically worth £400 to £500 per family, but vary depending on need.

Families can find out more and apply for a grant through the Family Fund

Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening -

Coronavirus Newsletter - Helpful information for parents of children with SEND

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SENDIASS Weekly Coronavirus Updates for Parents of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Edition 5

  • SEND children returning to school
  • new Family Hubs for each district of Staffordshire
  • new health app finder tool
  • relaxed requirements for Traineeships
  • home learning resources for children with specific SEND
  • Safe+Sound learning programme

Edition 4

  • free online lessons for children from reception to year 10

  • new helpline for parents struggling with home-schooling & difficulties arising from SEND

  • relaxed lockdown rules for those who need it due to their health needs

  • accessing health care for your children during the lockdown

  • a new service set up to support those in isolation called Help Hub

Edition 3

  • what is happening with EHC needs assessments and plans

  • financial help for families who have a child with SEND

  • how you can help to shape how SEND children are supported

  • Young Professional FREE training 

  • help available for parents/carers

  • online courses for parents of children with SEND

Edition 2

  • services providing support.

  • how you could help efforts to support the most vulnerable

  • free courses for 15 - 24 year olds

  • emotional wellbeing

  • talking to your child about coronavirus

  • keeping children and young people safe when online

Edition 1

  • the latest on what is happening with schools and other education settings for children with SEND

  • tips and ideas for staying at home

  • support services that may be able to help and support you either online or over helplines

DfE Coronavirus helpline

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The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours:
8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm – Saturday and Sunday

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Minister Ford's Open Letter to the SEND Sector -24.3.20.  A printable version is available in our download section.

Council for Disabled Children Coronavirus (COVID 19) Support and Guidance

Education Health and Care (EHC) assessments

We're working hard to keep the EHC plan process moving. Assessments for an EHC plan may look different as it becomes more difficult to do our work face to face. We may need to do more by telephone or video calls where possible. Our decision-making panels are moving to online meetings. We'll continue to review this.

We're working hard to keep the EHC plan process moving. Assessments for an EHC plan may look different as it becomes more difficult to do our work face to face. We may need to do more by telephone or video calls where possible. Our decision-making panels are moving to online meetings. We'll continue to review this.

Temporary EHCP legislative changes relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government have legislated two tempory changes with effect from 1 May 2020 relating to educational and health care provision within an EHCP and timescales:

  1. Section 42 of the CFA 2014 (duty to secure special educational provision and health care provision in accordance with EHC plan): the duty on LAs or commissioning health bodies to secure or arrange the provision is temporarily modified to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so.  This temporary modification is until 30 June 2020 and will be reviewed before 1 July 2020.  It must be renewed monthly, where the Secretary of State decides it is still appropriate and proportionate.
  2. The SEND (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 amend Regs that specify timescales that principally relate to EHC needs assessments and plans. Where it is not reasonably practicable, or is impractical, to meet that time limit for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus, the specific time limit will not apply -  process must be completed as soon as reasonably practicable.  The timescale temporary modifications are in place until 25 September 2020.

All other aspects of SEND Law remain in place.

Useful documents:

Gov.uk and Other Useful Guidance

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GOV.UK Guidance

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Guidance

Childcare from 1st June 2020

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Along with vulnerable children and children of critical workers, children of any parent will be able to attend a childcare setting from 1st June - however children aged 3 and 4 years could be prioritised. Settings will need to determine what they can offer depending on staff available, space and resources, so parents may not immediately have access to a place or the sessions they require or previously had.

If you are a critical worker and need urgent childcare please contact our team at: eeac@staffordshire.gov.uk

Advice and Guidance:

  • More information on schools and childcare settings re-opening from 1st June can be found on the government website
  • If you are looking for advice, guidance or help, related to Covid19 in Staffordshire please visit Staffordshire County Council's main website
  • Some childcare settings on this website may not all re-open from 1st June

Staffordshire County Council Coronavirus Information and Support Available

Connecting with local voluntary groups that need your help

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During the coronavirus outbreak, hundreds of people have stepped up to volunteer! We want to keep this fantastic community spirit going.

To help make it as easy as possible for you to connect with local voluntary groups that need your help, we are encouraging everyone in Staffordshire to join ‘Do It’

It’s a popular volunteering website that helps you find local opportunities with local organisations.

Talking to your child about the coronavirus

Online educational resources

  • Oak National Academy online classroom and resource hub. The Oak National Academy has launched its online classroom and resource hub. The Academy offers 180 video lessons each week for schools to use, across a broad range of subjects. The lessons cover children in Reception through to Year 10 and are free to use by both teachers and young people.

  • BBC Bitesize - The BBC has launched an education package for Year 1 to Year 10 across TV and online.  It features celebrities and teachers, helping to keep children and young people learning at home and supporting parents. 

Home learning resources for children with specific SEND

Hearing impairments

Visual impairments

Speech, language and communication

Physical impairments, balance and coordination

  • Bumble Bee Physio - adapted virtual live physical activity sessions (weekdays at 11am)
  • GriffinOT - fine motor skills and sensory processing videos (new video each weekday)

Print disabilities (any difficulty or inability to read text on paper)

Learning difficulties / disabilities

  • Chatterpack - adapted home learning curriculum (free for families)
  • Doorway Online - free and highly accessible educational games
  • SENict - educational accessible activities for those with complex needs

Various SEND

  • Twinkl - offers learning resources for many different types of SEND (use code UKTWINKLHELPS when registering to gain free access during the coronavirus pandemic)

Helpline for parents who are struggling with home-schooling

StarLine is a new national home learning helpline offering expert information and advice to parents and carers. They can support with:

  • Home learning queries
  • Strategies to manage behaviour
  • Strategies to support children's wellbeing
  • Supporting children who have special educational needs

Call 0330 313 9162

Other online educational resources:

  • Oxford Owl for Home is free and full of activities and fun ideas for parents/carers to help keep children building the skills and knowledge they need whilst schools are closed. 
  • Twinkl: Free: educational resources that can be used at each step of a child's learning journey.  Twinkl offer ‘School closure learning packs’ and educational resources across all Key Stages to include Early Years, SEND and English as a Second Language.
  • PlayHooray - activities for babies and young children that use items from around the house. 
  • Cosmic kids - yoga, mindfulness & relaxation designed especially for kids aged 3+.
  • Early Education: Free resources and ideas for early years. 
  • SCC website - early years supporting education at home
  • Chatterpack - home learning resources 
  • BBC Live Teach - Bring your subject to life with interactive lessons featuring some of the BBC's biggest brands and presenters
  • BBC Super Movers -  is a collaboration between the BBC and the Premier League to help get kids moving even in limited spaces, and is easy to implement in your own home. Packed full of fun activities designed to get kids moving, Super Movers is curriculum-linked, so you can be sure that they’re learning as they stay active, even in the confines of your living room.
  • BBC Food - How to teach the curriculum through cooking
  • Joe Wicks PE lesson 9-10 every day on Youtube
  • NRICH - maths resources.  Includes games and activies for 5-18 year olds.
  • IXL - maths, reception to Year 13
  • STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths resources, primary to post 16
  • Special Education and Inclusive Learning - sensory learning activities.
  • RSPB - becoming a wildlife detective, learn how to provide food, water, and homes for nature, and see what you can spot in your own garden.
  • TED Talks - fun, informative & captivating talks to inspire young minds 
  • National Geographic Kids -amazing facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more.
  • Action Jackson:- Happy Life Academy. Access is Free for Teachers, Parents and Students alike. You would just need to register by using your email address and creating a password.   Action Jackson has been running a Daily Dose of Motivation show on Youtube MondayFriday at 10 am.
  • National Literacy Trust – Family Zone - Ideas and guidance for simple activities that will engage your children at home, while also benefiting their reading, writing and language development. Free resources.

Disclaimer:

Staffordshire Connects are not responsible for the content of third party websites. It is recommended that you always check with providers that their service or organisation meets your requirements. We offer an impartial service and we cannot recommend or endorse any providers listed.

Get help with technology and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Laptops and tablets will be made available to help the most disadvantaged young people access online learning and social care services. Young people and families eligible for devices must not already have access to one, and must be in one of the following groups:

  • Children with a social worker
  • Care leavers
  • Disadvantaged children in Year 10, ahead of sitting their GCSEs next year.

Further information will be made available on the Gov.uk website.

Keeping your child safe online

There are lots of fantastic opportunities for children to access learning resources online, but it's important for parents to know their children are safe while doing this.

There is a lot of support available to keep your child safe online including the below useful links to help parents and carers:

  • Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
  • Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)

Aiming High virtual support and things to do at home

Aiming High Short Breaks

  • Aiming High - Virtual Support. Aiming High providers are working hard to develop ways of providing support to young people without them having to leave their homes.  Further details will be posted on our Aiming High page.

Library Service

Staffordshire Library and Arts Service have produced a really useful downloadable Family Resource Pack which you can view online or print.

Things to do at home

  • Caudwell Children have developed a unique collection of free Kids Activity Packs, designed especially for disabled children.  Every week, there will be a new pack of activity sheets delivered toyou via email once you have signed up via their website.
  • Cosmic kids - yoga, mindfulness & relaxation designed especially for kids aged 3+
  • Joe Wicks PE lesson 9-10 every day on Youtube
  • RSPB - becoming a wildlife detective, learn how to provide food, water, and homes for nature, and see what you can spot in your own garden.
  • Action Jackson has been running a Daily Dose of Motivation show on Youtube MondayFriday at 10 am.
  • The Great Indoors - 100 indoor activities by Scouts
  • Cbeebies - things to do indoors
  • Childline - Calm Zone
  • Childline - Games
  • Change4Life - ideas for indoor games, activities and healthy treats.
  • Harry Potter at Home - where you’ll find all the latest magical treats to keep you occupied - including special contributions from Bloomsbury and Scholastic, nifty magical craft videos (teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, quizzes, puzzles and plenty more for first-time readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world. 
  • Headspace - Reliable and relevant videos from Headspace
  • Bloomsbury - Resources to download and links to your favourite authors’ websites.
  • Book Trust Home Time - Looking for something fun as a family? Free online books and videos, games, win prizes, test your knowledge in book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.
  • Craft Council - Crafts for Home Schooling
  • DK Stay at Home Hub - Great activities for children of all ages and adults, brought to you by Dorling Kindersley.
  • Hungry Little Minds - Simple, fun activities for kids up to to five.
  • Kids in Museums - Links to museums, activities, virtual tours and online learning resources. Everything from The Mary Rose to The Roald Dahl Museum.
  • National Shelf Service - Daily book recommendations on You Tube from librarians across the Country. You can also search #NationalShelfService on social media
  • Penguin - Articles, games and activities from Penguin Random House UK
  • Shakespeare Week - Kids’ Zone – free activities for children.
  • 64 Million Artists - Creative ideas for home schooling and daily challenges.

Disclaimer:

Staffordshire Connects are not responsible for the content of third party websites. It is recommended that you always check with providers that their service or organisation meets your requirements. We offer an impartial service and we cannot recommend or endorse any providers listed.

Wellbeing support

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  • Staffordshire County Council's main website provides information on virtual school wellbeing support for children, parents and carers.
  • Social distancing and self-isolation advice from Young Minds (for young people and parents of teenagers).
  • Keeping after your feelings and your body - easy read leaflet from Public Health England
  • NHS's Top 5 Tips for maintaining mental wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.  You can view these and more tips on Every Mind Matters
    • Talk about your worries: it is normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Maintain contact with friends and family via phone and video calls to share how you are feeling.
    • Keep a regular routine and set goals: you may need to set a new routine for now. Try writing a plan for your day with the things you can still do at home, such as watching a film, reading a book or completing a puzzle. Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Maintaining good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically too, so it’s important to get enough (the Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice).
    • Manage your media and information intake: if 24-hour news and constant social media updates are making you worried, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak to once or twice a day.
    • Do things you enjoy and try something new: focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can help boost your mood. Look online for free tutorials and courses.
    • Look after your body: our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. You can leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for one form of exercise a day – like a walk, run or bike ride. But make sure you keep a safe 2-metre distance from others.
  • Relate have developed some advice to help with difficult relationships at home, how to support your child with their emotional wellbeing and tips on managing anxiety
  • Reading Well Books on Prescription - Book lists containing accredited and helpful reading to support health and wellbeing.
  • Search for help and wellbeing apps

Coronavirus (COVID-19 Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area - then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

When should I seek medical help for my child - information for parents and carers during the coronavirus outbreak?

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health leaflet

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself. 

Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. Remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. 

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced a poster for parents.  A copy can be found in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent's April 2020 Child Death Prevention newsletter which is available in our download section.

Free online training for young people

  • The Training Initiative has developed a range of virtual courses for 15-24 year olds designed for learners to make the most of their time away from their education, and give them the qualifications related to careers they may have an interest in after they have completed their education.

    These courses are fully funded by the European Social Fund. The programmes will be delivered through a combination of self-study, online, virtual classes and 1:1 sessions, with a priority being on keeping learners engaged and ensuring they are thoroughly supported through their studies.

    The programmes include: 

> Digital Marketing

> Personal Assistant/Virtual Assistant

> Fitness Instructor

> Teaching Assistant

> Event Planner

> Beautician

Eligibility. Learners should be 15 - 24 years old and not currently in education, training or employment (including those missing out on education due to COVID-19).

For enquiries call 01827 216171 or email enquiries@thetraininginitiative.co.uk

  • Youth Employment UK is offering young people aged 14 - 24 years old the chance to boost the top 5 life and work skills through an online programme. Young people will have the opportunity to complete free skills training and print their certificates, as well as being able to access careers planning support and a wealth of information about things like careers choices, money issues and mental health.

    The Young Professional programme aims to develop the top 5 life skills that employers look for:

    > Self belief
    > Communication
    > Self-management
    > Team work
    > Problem-solving
  • Safe+Sound live learning programme 

    On Wednesdays at 10am Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be broadcasting a live learning programme for children in Key Stage 2. Children will learn about many different subjects around health and safety.

Autism Outreach Team - Support and Resources Facebook Page is now live

Easy read coronavirus information

Coronavirus information - translations

Coronavirus posters and images in different translations can be found on the Public Health England website. 

Coronavirus Alternative Resources - audio and British Sign Language (BSL)

Coronavirus alternative resources are available to download on the Public Health England website.

Mediation and Disagreement Resolution Service

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Global Mediation is continuing to offer mediation and disagreement resolution services to parents, carers and young people, although meetings now take place virtually in all cases.

The Provider is routinely discussing with parents/carers and the SEND Team the best way to facilitate meetings given that individual access to ICT can vary.  Currently the County Council’s ICT does not support the use of Zoom however other software and methods are available and can be explored to ensure that meetings continue to take place.  The Provider is not currently reporting any delays which may impact on statutory timescales however Global Mediation will alert the Local Authority promptly should this happen.

Personal Assistant Employment- Frequently Asked Questions

Children with Disabilities – short breaks and support with care at home

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  • All Aiming High group activities have been ceased for the foreseeable future, however many of our providers are delivering virtual activities, guides and activity packs for parents which they can undertake at home with their children instead over the Easter period and coming weeks.  You can find out more here.

  • It’s important to remind families that our Overnight Short Breaks service run by Action for Children remains open and staff will be taking all necessary precautions to keep children safe during their stays through the Covid-19 pandemic.  Now as much as ever it’s important families supporting children with disabilities at home do get breaks from their caring roles from time to time.   We’ve noticed many families are cancelling their short breaks and would want to reassure them the service will remain open, safe and accessible to be there for them when they need it through the spring and summer.

  • Similarly all Community Based Support/Home care will continue to be available for children with the most complex needs and appropriate measures are in place to ensure the safety and continuity of those services.  We are working with our providers to ensure they have sufficient funding and staff coverage to manage care throughout the Covid-19 crisis and we are also identifying volunteers through our staff ‘iCount’ and community ‘iCare’ programmes to ensure help is there when you need it if you normally have the support of one of our care providers to help you care for your child.  Again we know a number of families are isolating themselves and cancelling support and we’d want to reassure them that this support WILL continue to be available for them when they need it.

Speech Therapy

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Children and young people who have speech and language needs identified in Section F of their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  This is provided by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust.   All children and young people have up to date targets and plans and will receive telephone contact support from therapists.  This will be at the frequency outlined in the EHCP, to the school – if the child is in school - or the home.

Specialist Services

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The specialist teaching services for children and young people with autism, hearing impairment or vision impairment will continue to work through telephone and on-line communication. Staff based in schools will continue to be available unless required to self isolate. Please liaise with your named contact for further information.

ASSIST are continuing to offer interpreting services via virtual means.

Financial help for families with a child who has SEND

Family Fund's grant for families with a disabled child

Family Fund is the UK's largest charity providing grants for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Family Fund believes that all families raising seriously ill children and young people should have the same opportunities as others. We provide grants and services that support a family, improve their wellbeing, increase quality of life and ease many of the pressures they often face.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with living costs if you are on a low income. Many families who were not previously eligible for Universal Credit may now be eligible if their income has dropped due to COVID-19. Your Universal Credit amount may be higher if you, your child or someone else in your household has a disability. A further top up amount is available to those who are providing care for more than 35 hours per week for someone who is disabled or seriously ill.

Click here to check how much you could get using the benefits calculator on the Turn2us website
Click here to find out more about Univeral Credit and apply online.

Advice for those in financial difficulty

If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to COVID-19 the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice have a wealth of information about the financial support that may be available, as well as money advice to help during these difficult times.

Click here to visit the Money Advice Service website
Click here to visit the Citizen's Advice website

Help available for parents/carers

  • Carers Hub - The Carers Hub is a support service for people who care, including parents of child with SEND. Since face-to-face support and groups have had to temporarily stop running, the Carers Hub is offering the following services:

    > telephone support for adult or young carers
    > online advice and information
    > emotional wellbeing and befriender calls
    > WhatsApp carer support groups > virtual tea and coffee mornings
  • Action for Children - Action for Children have increased their support for parents. You can seek 1:1 advice from a trained parenting coach online, and you can browse through loads of information to help you at home during the Coronavirus lockdown.
  • SENDIASS - provide information, advice and support to parents, carers, children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  They can be contacted by emailing: sfps@staffordshire.gov.uk or by calling their temporary helpline telephone number on 07891 599 662.

FREE online SEND training for parents/carers

Coronavirus study by University of Sussex - Impact of COVID 19 on family life, relationships and wellbeing

University of Sussex COVID 19 Study flyer

Do you have a primary aged child (between the ages of 4-11 years old)? Would you be interested in participating in a study being undertaken by the University of Sussex?

They are interested in learning about how families throughout the UK respond to the changes made during the coronavirus outbreak. They are looking to track the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on family life, emotional well-being, and social relationships.

More information and to complete the questionnaire.

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