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Children and Young People are fully engaged in their education and local community

Local Needs

Community-based environments provide an important place for children and young people with SEND to express themselves, develop their skills, and be supported to be healthy and independent young people. Universal, inclusive, person-centred support and care enables children and young people with SEND to thrive. Universal services include early years settings, schools, further education settings, Public Health Nursing (PHN), school nurses, Primary Care, and voluntary and community groups. Text image with: Trust access life chances coproduction

As at Spring 2021, there are 13,624 children and young people receiving SEN support in Devon schools. At a minimum, all services must make reasonable adjustments to supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities[16]. As a Partnership, we are committed to going beyond this. We have heard from families about how important access to opportunities in the community are for their children and that there remain barriers for children to join local groups. Wherever possible, we will take proactive steps to ensure the support we offer is inclusive, accessible, enriching and meets the individual needs and circumstances of the child or young person.

Where we are now

Health visiting services play a crucial role in the early identification of children with developmental difficulties, or with significant impairments likely to result in disability through the routine developmental reviews offered during the first two years of a child’s life as part of the Healthy Child Programme. All families in Devon have a named health visitor until their child is five years old who they can contact if they have any concerns about the way that their child is developing. The health visiting service are well placed to facilitate early support and provide information about local and national services.

Some families will require additional help and guidance following initial contacts with the service and health visitors and their teams can offer personalised or group support in relation to infant feeding (including weaning), sleep, family mental health, the transition to parenthood and recommend activities which promote the development of close and loving early relationships between parents and children. Health visiting services support parents who’s infant or child have received a diagnosis through antenatal screening or recognised in the early years. They also support children born prematurely who are at risk of developmental delay and work in conjunction with other services such as GPs, paediatricians, and specialist therapists.


[16] The Equality Act 2010: Equality Act 2010 (legislation.gov.uk).

[17] We publish our annual plans for SEND capital funding online


School Nursing

The school nursing service work with 5-19 year-olds. They give confidential advice, care and treatment to children and young people, and work with parents and carers in schools and other community settings. They work to improve the health and wellbeing of this age group and identifying anyone who needs early help. They provide a point of contact for children and young people, parents or carers, and schools that need health advice or information. This may involve assessing individual needs, offering advice and referring to other services, as necessary. School nurses can provide support in relation to mental health, sexual health, healthy lifestyles, alcohol, smoking and substance misuse and related health issues either through clinic appointments or through the CHAT health text service. As part of early help for mental health (EH4MH) programme in schools school nurses receive referrals for children and young people experiencing emotional and mental health difficulties (75% of referrals for emotional wellbeing provision) as part of the response they can offer Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) interventions. They also support children and young people with some on-going or specific health needs. This may include children with complex health needs or a learning or physical disability.

Children’s Centres

Children’s Centres continue to build on the success of Step by Step – a targeted group for parents and children within childrens centres – to further develop the inclusive targeted early years offer. We will draw on the expertise of the Children’s Centre staff who have undertaken the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) training to strengthen the early help offer for children under 8 and their families with neuro disability needs. We will also review the offer to support speech language and communication needs (SLCN), particularly as a result of the impact of the pandemic on children’s development.

Devon Youth Service

Devon County Council commissions youth services delivered by Space. The service provides a universal offer to all young people in Devon and support a wide range of other small local voluntary and community-sector youth organisations. Within the universal offer, Space have dedicated youth groups for young people with special education needs and disabilities. Following the pandemic, the youth service will develop a blended building-based, street-based, and digital offer. This will widen access and choice to young people, supporting individual needs, interests, and circumstances.

Space deliver regular sessions dedicated to young people with mild to severe disabilities, from two centres. The aim is to increase this to all youth centres by the end of the current contract in 2025. Space have already increased the number of sessions available to include online services during the pandemic, after accessing short-term emergency funding. They plan to have sessions for SEND young people from all localities where Space has youth centres. Space will continue to engage with and be guided by young people and carers as to what types of sessions are most accessible and have the most positive impact for them.

Short Breaks

1,782 children and young people are currently being supported by a range of community and voluntary sector run Short Breaks services or receiving personal budgets or direct payments to provide support. For more information, our Short Breaks statement can be found here.

As part of our Short Breaks offer, we jointly commission a Family Based Short Breaks service – a regulated foster care service delivered by Action for Children and rated outstanding by Ofsted. This service provides regular short breaks to children and their families in a home-based environment. 20 children and young people were supported through this service last year. This service provides a safe, caring, personalised and effective environment for young people to thrive and achieve in, and supports children and young people to continue to live at home by offering parents and carers a short overnight break. The current contract runs to June 2022, and plans are underway to inform the future re-commissioning of this service in line with the wider review of short breaks in Devon.

Devon County Council (DCC) directly delivers four homes and commissions further resources from the independent sector, to offer overnight short breaks to disabled children across the county. The homes are jointly-funded in partnership with NHS Devon CCG. They support children and young people, who have more complex needs, enabling children to receive regular breaks in a regulated children’s home setting.

In addition, the Council provides small grants annually to small voluntary, community and parent run groups to offer opportunities for children and young people in the community. The key focus of grants is to support children and young people, up to the age of 18, to take part in community-based activities alongside their friends. The small grants scheme is delivered in partnership between Devon County Council (DCC) and Parent Carer Forum Devon (PCFD) to ensure the voice and views of parents are central to decision making on who should receive an award.

We have also commissioned advice and guidance to parents and families through a service called Quid’s 4 Kids (Q4K). In the last three years, this service has enabled parents to claim the resources they are entitled to by supporting with applications and make appeals. Since the beginning of 2018-19 financial year to date, the Q4K service has produced over £5 million in income gains to Devon families through their access to benefits.

In the Winter of 2019, jointly with Parent Carer Forum Devon (PCFD), we engaged with parent carers on our local Short Breaks offer to inform a re-design and re-commissioning of the services. This is in line with our responsibilities to keep the local offer for children with SEND under review, including how we ensure our short breaks offer reflects the changing needs of children, young people, and their families. More information on this can be found in appendix 5.

During Summer 2020, together with PCFD, we developed a short breaks provider forum to engage with our provider market, offer opportunities for learning and reflection, and build links between families, providers, commissioners and operational staff. The forum has been invaluable to its attendees, particularly in ensuring a sustained offer throughout the pandemic. But also, to ensure services were ready to respond when restrictions lifted. We are committed to continue this collaborative approach.

Equipment and adaptations

The Devon Independent Living Integrated Service (DILIS) is a jointly commissioned service which provides community equipment and minor adaptations to both children and adults following an assessment of needs by Occupation Therapy (OT) services. The service exists to enable children, young people, and adults to fully access their environment, both inside and outside the home, and so enabling full participation and inclusion in their lives and communities.

Since contract award in 2017, Devon County Council and its partners have worked with the provider Millbrook Healthcare to put in place systems and processes to enable timely access to products and equipment to meet a wide range of needs. Last financial year, the service supported 337 children and young people in Devon to receive a total of 512 pieces of equipment as prescribed to meet their individual needs. We are looking to further improve this service and the offer of equipment and adaptations overall including education settings. As part of the ongoing review of the system, engagement work is planned to commence in June 2021 to understand the experiences for families, children and young people receiving equipment provision to inform improvements across the childrens landscape. This work will also start to inform and shape future commissioning and re-procurement of the DILIS service, where new arrangements will commence from 2024.

What we will do

  • Following the engagement activities of 2020 and based on the findings, we will review our Short Breaks offer during Summer 2021 and consider how the service will better meet the needs of children and young people with SEND across Devon post-COVID. Including developing inclusive communities in partnership with District Councils. We will review our direct payments and personal budgets policy in the context of the wider short breaks offer.
  • We will review the offer to equipment and adaptations through engagement with children and families in June 2021 take the recommendations into the improvement plan and re-commissioning arrangements.
  • In line with Best Start in Life Strategy development and the SEND Transformation we will further develop our offer through Public Health Nursing, Childrens Centres and integrate more fully with child development and maternity services.
  • Further expand the inclusive offer from Space as part of the recovery plan and standing up of face to face youth services following the Pandemic.

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