In 2014 the biggest education reforms in a generation took place when the government implemented the Children and Families Act 2014, to improve the support available for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND). As part of this new system, provision for children with special educational needs was extended from birth to 25 years of age under the new statementing process, called Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Local authorities are responsible for managing this process and the government published detailed guidance about the process for professionals and parents.

At Auditory Verbal UK, we support families on our programme who want to find out more about Education Health and Care Plans and those who go through the process. Families have shared that it can sometimes feel daunting or confusing so we have collated the most frequently asked questions to try and help clarify the process.

What is an EHCP?

The Education Health and Care Plan process is designed to put the child and family at the centre, and should represent all the needs of a child across education, health and social care in one place (the ‘plan’). EHCP’s will be a live document that is regularly updated to reflect the development of a child and the plan should document in a clear and accountable way, what support has been agreed between parents, the child (if old enough to contribute) and professionals, to help the child reach their full potential.

Who can apply for an EHCP?

EHCP’s are for children from the ages of 0 – 25 who have special educational needs and disability. In order to apply for an EHCP, there needs to be evidence that additional support has already been given to a child (for example, access to speech and language therapy, support from your Teacher of the Deaf) but that extra support is still required. This ‘evidence’ is really important when you apply for an EHCP and it is helpful for the latest reports from the professionals supporting your child to be submitted with your application.

How can an EHCP be applied for?

Health and Education professionals can apply for an EHCP on your behalf and will assist with coordinating the initial stages of an application. Usually this would be your Teacher of the Deaf or a nursery or school setting. As a parent you also have a right to instigate the EHCP process – check your local authority website/ local offer as some local authorities have a form that you can download and complete. Otherwise you can write a letter to your local authority SEN team.

What should I expect?

Families have varied experiences of the EHCP process – some have positive experiences, while others have found the process a lot more challenging. The government has published a flowchart, which provides a useful guide of the approved time frames for each stage of the process from your initial request for an EHCP assessment, what your options are if this is approved or denied, and the next steps.

What support does AVUK provide?

If you are thinking about applying for an EHCP, or the process has already started, please let us know. We will be happy to guide you through the process. Your therapist will be able to write you a summary report to support the initial request for an EHCP, and a more detailed report when the local authority officially requests an education, health and care needs assessment. Your therapist and family support team will also be able to review and discuss the draft plan with you.

Several local authorities are now recognising that Auditory Verbal therapy is needed for children with a hearing loss to be able to listen and speak. This means that some parents have been able to get funding specifically for AVT through their EHCP.

If you have any questions about EHCP’s please contact Beth Cardwell, Family Support and Development officer - Beth.Cardwell@avuk.org.

The NDCS has a helpline and dedicated team of support workers who assist families with the EHCP process - http://www.ndcs.org.uk

IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Educational Advice) have some helpful resources and model letters available to download from their website - https://www.ipsea.org.uk/what-you-need-to-know/ehc-plans/draft-ehc-plans