It takes leaders to break down siloes: Integrating services for disabled children
Children and young people with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) and their families have a consistent request: that they are supported to achieve the best possible outcomes through access to the right services at the right time.
For this to happen, they need the people who commission and deliver services to coordinate their work so that their care can be ‘joined up’ and personalised according to their needs and aspirations.
That is why we have produced this report to drive change in the design and delivery of services for disabled children, and support greater integration for children and young people more generally.
Background to the report
Over the past decade, successive governments have brought in a range of legislation, policies and programmes in an attempt to deliver on a vision of coordinated, person-centred care and better outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
However, despite this visible drive towards integration, services for children with SEND remain fragmented. The reality of integrated working between different services and agencies, such as NHS and local authority services, children’s and adults’ services and specialist and universal services, is challenging.
The report identifies key factors that are helping and hindering the integration of services around special education needs and disability (SEND).
The report does this by drawing upon considerable expertise, as well as consultation with 76 education, health and care professionals and parent carers in three local authority areas.
- The system of disabled children’s services, nationally and locally, is highly complex and fragmented. Those who work in it face multiple practical barriers to integration.
- Leadership is the most important factor in enabling or hindering integration; service leaders play a pivotal role in uniting agencies around a whole-system approach to SEND and wider vulnerable children’s services.
- Good quality population data is vital to developing a whole-system approach, and the measurement of shared outcomes.
- Local Areas’ efforts to integrate services in the complex SEND system must be part of a wider strategic vision