SEND services in Kent are subject to a Written Statement of Action (WSOA) following an inspection of services in January 2019 identified weaknesses in nine key areas. One of those areas was the ability of the service to deliver Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in a timely manner and to an agreed quality. The most recent figures indicate that only 29% of EHCPs were delivered in line with statutory timescales. One of the key reasons for this failure has been the exponential increase in numbers of requests over recent years linked to the inability of the Education Psychology Service (EPS) to provide enough assessments in a timely manner
The Council is seeking the provision of high-quality locum support to complete statutory assessments in accordance with the template provided by the local authority and within designated time scales. Ongoing support to the service will be provided, through the award of a contract to a third party provider, to significantly reduce the likelihood of a future backlog
Options (other options considered but discarded):
There is a national shortage of qualified Educational Psychologists and potentially a low level of capacity in the market to provide the service. Whilst there are locums available, they may not necessarily be in Kent and a digital offer will need to be considered.
In order to avoid the replication of the current backlog situation, commissioners have discussed with the service how their future needs can be best met by developing the design of the service and what impact this could have on the preventions of waiting lists. This may include but is not limited to the development of a portfolio of locums that would be available to take on ad-hoc work as the peaks and troughs of referrals dictates.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 03/11/2020
Anticipated restriction: Part exempt - View reasons
Decision due: Not before 2nd Dec 2020 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Reason: In order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Lead director: Mark Walker
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Contact: Christy Holden, Lead Commissioning Manager 03000 415356.
Cabinet Committee consultation planned:
The decision will be considered by the Children’s and Young People Cabinet Committee on 18 November 2020.
Financial implications: The contract is dependent on demand and foresee the spend range to be between £500k and £1.5m per annum. The contract is for one year with an option to extend for a further year.
Legal implications: The local authority has a statutory obligation to complete assessments (EHCPs) in a 20-week timeframe. As an authority we are. in a number of cases. failing in this duty impacted by the capacity of the EP Service. Establishing a contract seeks to address this. In 2019 Ofsted and the CQC undertook a joint inspection of Kent’s SEND offer and how this is implemented across the county. The inspection identified the following - The Fragmented system means that too many children and young people with SEND do not get the support they need - Families experience a high level of confusion about what support is available. Resulting in the belief that an EHCP is essential to ensure their child’s needs are met. - Kent does not yet successfully prioritise the needs of children and young people with SEND. - Children and young people with SEND experience unacceptable inequality when accessing services in Kent.
Equalities implications: An EqIA has been completed and identified no high negative impacts and the following positive impacts were identified: -An increase in the total number of assessments available to meet the needs of young people who are in need of an Educational Psychology assessment who may/may not be SEN; A reduced wait to access support which may be dependent on the completion of an assessment; Young people and their families will be supported to achieve and will have their wellbeing positively impacted as a result of receiving an assessment service in a more timely manner. Whilst by its nature the service will exclude those who do not fulfil these criteria, the choice of these restrictions is justified, and any other protected groups are not affected as demonstrated in the EQIA.