The forum is an independent organisation which works alongside key professionals responsible for strategic planning and provision of services within Somerset, to improve services and the delivery of services so that they better meet families’ needs.
Parent carers can help pinpoint problems frequently experienced by families with disabled children. This knowledge is useful to professionals to help them improve how services are delivered, so they better meet family’s needs.
When parents and professionals work together, recognising each other’s expert knowledge, informed decisions are made which make the best use of people’s time and money.
Parents and carers understand the problems and issues that families with disabled children face and this knowledge can be used practically in shaping services that are relevant and right for the disabled children and their families in their areas.
The forum has a service level agreement with Somerset County Council and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to work on a variety of work streams to help improve local services through feeding back the experiences of local families which we have collected via surveys, engagement events and coffee mornings. The service level agreement reflects the forums independent status to enable us to feed back parent views accurately.
The Somerset Sendias Service offers free independent information, advice and support for families. The forum work with the services to ensure the collective views of families are shared to those that provide services. Examples of this include taking part in an independent review of the Single route of redress trial and feedback difficulties families have with the EHCp process.
The forum is one of the 151 forums that form part of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. This enables us to feed local experiences and challenges into the national work to get parental voice heard. The forum have representatives that also work as part of the NNPCF at a national level.
Contact, the charity for disabled children manage the grants for parent participation on behalf of the Department of Education. Contact offer support for families at and individual level through their helpline and campaign for improved services for children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities and their families.
The forum also works with the following teams to collect and share the experiences of families of children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities.