Special educational needs and disability (SEND)

Family Hubs support families with children up to the age of 19, but many extend their support up to the age of 25 where a child has special educational needs or disability. 

In terms of the early years, paediatric provision is often closely integrated with other services, to address associated social care, mental health, and educational needs.

Support services provision for those with SEND and their families at Family Hubs is bespoke and diverse. Please find below three examples from Family Hubs across the UK. 

Seashells (Kent) – Kate Townsend-Blazier 

What do you offer children with SEND and their families? 

To support children with SEND and their families, Seashells ensures the Best Practice Guidance for Early Years is followed and all our Family Hub settings meet the statutory responsibilities to develop high quality inclusive practice. Along with ensuring our staff are familiar with key requirements of the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework and other relevant legislation and safeguarding requirements, our dedicated nursery SENDCO is familiar with the Code of Practice and Ofsted expectations in relation to children with SEND. We ensure an enabling learning environment for children with SEND and work in partnership with parents to help support their children’s development.   

In addition to ensuring all our groups and activities are welcoming and accessible to all, we have an onsite sensory hub which is bookable for families to use. This highly-equipped resource is also available for services that may be giving 1:1 support to individuals with additional needs. We work alongside other services to ensure parents and care-givers are equipped with the right information to receive support from specialist services. Information is kept up to date and shared regularly to ensure that families are receiving the correct information at all times.   

From the Hub we provide space for specialist services to see families who are needing free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support about special educational needs and disabilities. This support is for children, young people (up to 25) and their families.    

Our trained dedicated SENDCO regularly attends Early Years Local Inclusion Forum Team meetings and additional training and helps support other practitioners and staff in their practise and support for children and their families. The Family Outreach Coordinator also attends these meetings to ensure further support can be offered to parents and carers through services the centre can deliver.  These extra family support services may include access to various parenting courses, 1:1 support to work on specific needs, parent and care-giver support groups, supporting families to attend appointments, completing paperwork to access correct funding such as Free for 2 or Disability Living Allowance (if have a specific diagnosis).   

How does working through the Family Hubs model enable you to better provide this support? 

Working through the Family Hubs model enables us to ensure children with SEND and their families have access to support through a place that they are already familiar with. Families may have already accessed the midwife, health visitors, groups and activities, nursery and more and feel comfortable knowing that they are able to seek further help here. The model ensures that our onsite services and provisions can help address and support families as a whole. Skills and knowledge are shared across the teams which enhances practice and delivery and provides all children and their families the opportunities to achieve the best outcomes. Furthermore, as a child grows and develops and moves through the age-appropriate support they may still continue to access services such as North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), sensory hub and family sessions from here. 

Fegans Family Hubs (Kent) – Ian Soars 

What do you offer children with SEND and their families? 

  • Counselling - We counsel hundreds of SEND children every year to enable them to manage their physical or emotional challenges – for example we support autistic children managing their anxiety so that they are more able to engage with mainstream schools.   
  • Parenting - we provide specialist parenting support for parents of children with SEND.   
  • In our Family Hubs - In Fegans pre-schools we provide holistic care for families with send children so that these children can develop as quickly as they are able.   

How does working through the Family Hubs model enable you to better provide this support? 

  • It helps for a rounded service that has ‘no wrong door’ and provides different types of support at different levels of engagement as families need it. This means that families can ‘dip’ into support when life becomes complex in any given areas without having to go through a complex re-referral process.   

Family Hubs (Doncaster) – Denise Beevers 

What do you offer for SEND children and their families? 

  • Doncaster Family Hubs are the ‘go to’ place and many families call in for advice, information and guidance where they can be signposted to professionals who can support.   
  • We support families to identify any early signs if there has not been a diagnosis and then support families to access the correct pathways   
  • We are inclusive within any groups and activities to enable SEND children to attend universal sessions if appropriate. All buildings are DDA compliant.   
  • Family Hubs are used by a range of other professionals and organisations to meet with SEND families both individually and in groups   
  • The Early Year’s SEND team and portage (a home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with SEND and their families) teams work very closely with Family Hubs many based in Hubs and attend team meetings.   
  • As part of the Early Help pathway and with any families we may be working with directly we work with a wide range of partners to offer the most appropriate support   

How does working through the Family Hub model enable you to provide better support? 

I think our biggest strength is our partnership working that has developed over time.  This has been enhanced more recently as more partners have joined a Locality Model (mirroring the way Family Hubs were initially developed).  In addition to working with a wide range of partners, Family Hubs have developed trusting relationships with families and are aware of place-based issues with a wealth of local intelligence.