The Forum was set up in 2005 by a small group of parents who all had children with a variety of disabilities. They were feeling incredibly isolated and struggling to navigate the world of Special Educational Needs. They came together to initially offer each other some peer support and as their numbers grew they started to realise that as parents and carers in Halton there is a vital role to be played in shaping and developing services available to children.
The group believed that parents and Carers are the experts on their child, are the primary teachers (educators) of their children, meet the needs of their children on a daily basis and see and experience difficulties encountered from gaps in services and that by coming together and sharing their knowledge and experience, they could then work with those who provide services for disabled children and their families and share this information to help plan and improve the quality, range and accessibility of services for all disabled children and their families in Halton. Partnership working with Health, Education and Social Care creates a culture that ensures families are at the heart of policy that affects them whilst realistically creating the best possible outcomes with the resources available in Halton.
Halton SEND Carers Forum became an official parent carer forum in 2018 with the release of government funding from the Department for Education (DfE) and were supported by Contact a Family who are the contracted delivery partner for the DfE in supporting parent carer participation in England. We form part of the Northwest Regional forum and this has led to the development of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF). The aim of these Networks is to ensure that good practice, knowledge and shared expertise about parent participation continues to grow and strengthen, and to develop a cohesive and coherent structure to sustain and develop the effectiveness of parent carer forums across England, individually and as a collective voice. The NNPCF membership is made up of 152 Parent Carer Forums of which there is one in almost every local authority area in England. Each parent carer forum in receipt of the Department of Education participation grant is a member of the NNPCF.
Halton SEND Carers Forum was founded to provide a role in identifying and expressing the collective voice and experience of parents and carers of children and young people aged 0 to 25 around special educational needs and disability, ensuring participation and engagement and providing information and support to those parents and carers, whilst having a pivotal role in shaping the services families receive based on experience.
Today we are proud to say that our membership is growing yearly, empowering parents and carers to work alongside Health and Local Authority independently but in partnership to ensure increased communication and information, subsequently reducing conflict. Our biggest achievement in terms of this are our very successful annual events which bring together over 100 members, an equal mix of parents, carers, young people and practioners from Health, Education and Social Care to look at how we can all work better together with the child/young person at the centre.
We see the isolation so often experienced by families living with additional needs reducing drastically as over 1000 families in Halton are accessing and engaging in our support and activities.
Please follow the link to join us, as much or as little that you can bring is enough. If you are experiencing an issue with your family, more than likely others are too and together we are stronger.
Together we can make a difference now and for future families, spend less time navigating the maze and have more time to celebrate our amazing families.