You may well be wondering how the impact of the coronavirus will affect your child’s SEN provision. Vicky Ford, the Minister responsible for SEND, has now released this letter in which she says the Government is committed to doing everything possible to support affected families. The letter refers mainly to children and young people with EHC Plans and says that the local authority, school or other setting will carry out a risk assessment, which should include the child or young person’s and parents’ views, to determine whether their needs can safely be met at home, or they need to continue attending school, college or other setting.
It is likely that staying at home will be considered the best and safest option for children and young people with DLD, unless perhaps they have another condition as well, or their parents are classed as essential workers. It is, however, possible that children who need direct speech and language therapy and have this specified in their EHC Plans, may need to meet their therapist either at school or elsewhere periodically. Alternatively, an online system such as Skype might be used to avoid unnecessary travel.
The Minister’s letter goes on to say that emergency powers have been passed which modify local authorities’ absolute duties to deliver the support specified in EHC Plans, should it prove impossible to do so. This means that, until the current crisis is over, it is possible that your child will no longer receive all the help specified in their Plan – or not in the way they did before. And if your child was receiving help that was not clearly specified in the Plan, e.g. there is only a vague reference to speech and language therapy, but they had a weekly session anyway because they were in a language unit, there is no guarantee that this will be delivered until schools resume normal service.
If you have any questions about any of this, and what help your child might be able to access, do contact the Afasic Helpline. We remain open on Mondays and Wednesdays at the usual time of 10.30 – 4.00, and you can email us at any time. We would be very interested to hear what support, if any, you and your child are receiving from their school, nursery or college, or indeed from the speech and language therapy service and local authority.
Don’t forget that Afasic has a range of resources, most of them free, which you can download and use for speech and language practice. Other sources of help and information include:
Special Needs Jungle for up-to-date information on the legal situation
There are also many home-education sites, many of them American, which contain lots of useful resources for work with children. Google, and see what you can find.