Parent Participation - The Parents Forum Steering Group’s role is to work with the Local Authority and other strategic partners to ensure that parent/carers views are represented. We have seats on many of the decision making boards including the Disability Partnership Board. Our monthly consultation events aim to establish the issues that families are concerned about in order to ensure that these are highlighted to the professionals that make the decisions on spending, cuts and services.
Coproduction - The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced SEND reforms which are currently being implemented across England. This means there is now a requirement by Central Government that Local Authorities, Health, Parent Carer Forums, and children and young people MUST work collaboratively when planning, designing, implementing, improving and reviewing services for children and young people with SEND. The Parents Forum Steering Group is working hard to try and ensure that we are involved from the beginning to ensure true coproduction in Sutton. As always, it is so important that we get input from as many and as wide a range of parent/carers to ensure that all disabilities and additional needs are represented.
Planning new services – as a result of our Leisure Survey which more than 100 parent/carers completed back in 2012 we have worked with the Local Authority Leisure Services team and the borough’s leisure services contractors to plan and deliver a range of exclusive disability sessions during school holidays. This includes the main pool at Westcroft Leisure Centre being closed to the general public for an hour every Tuesday in the school holidays for a swim and inflatables session for children and young people with additional needs and their families.
Befriending– each member of the Steering Group has a child or children with additional needs and wants to make a difference and help others who may be facing challenges we have faced. We also have a ‘bank’ of parent/carers who want to help others but not attend board meetings and so on. Sometimes just having a cup of tea and a chat with another parent/carer who absolutely ‘gets it’ can really help and we are here to do just that!
How this service works
All parent/carers of children and young people with additional needs and/or disabilities, who live in Sutton, are automatically members of the Parents Forum.
There is no joining process but there is an elected Steering Group who always welcome any input from parent/carers : joining the Steering Group, being part of specific Focus Groups on areas of interest to them (current examples are Health and the development of the Local Offer), designing flyers.
We run monthly themed coffee mornings on topics chosen from feedback from parent/carers and issues that affect groups such as Education, Health and Care Plans. We aim to provide support, advice, information, someone to talk to and a friendly welcome to all fellow parent/carers.
Recent projects include, last year, working with the Local Authority to ensure parent/carers were able to attend focus groups to give their views on how the Local Offer website should be designed.
Support for parents and carers
We endeavour to listen to the concerns and issues of as many parents as possible, by meeting with them at our regular events, asking for their help by completing occasional questionnaires, keeping our Facebook page and website updated, running Focus Groups, organising training sessions (such as using IT) and ensuring parent/carers views are represented to promote excellence in the quality, range and accessibility of service provision for all disabled children, young people and their families.
We are also happy to meet up individually or with groups of parents to offer support, advice, try to make changes or just have a chat. A recent example of successful parent participation; we have just commissioned a new Saturday Youth Club after talking with a group of parents and young people who were losing a popular local provision.
As parent/carers ourselves, the Steering Group fully understand how important it is to return your calls or emails as soon as is possible, and at an appropriate time for you. This can be during the day, evening or weekend if necessary.
How the service is funded
We receive a grant from the Department for Education which is currently matched by the London Borough of Sutton. Our Treasurer will provide the annual accounts on request.
As a Community Interest Group we are now able to apply for charitable grants for specific projects.
How to start using the service
Just contact us via phone or email or come along to the next coffee morning.