Andrew Hirst of the East Anglian Daily Times reports:
Families have had to “fight every step of the way” to get help for the children with the greatest needs in Suffolk.
Waiting times for mental health services are said to have started to reduce demonstrating “necessary progress in an area that still requires significant further improvement”.
In a joint statement, SCC and the CCGs said: “We fully accept the findings of the report and apologise that the local area’s services and provision have not effectively met the needs of children and young people in our county. Transforming these services is our priority.”
Parents and carers of children with special educational needs today told how they had to fight “tooth and nail” to get help.
The Suffolk Parent Carer Network (SPCN), which produced a survey of parents views, said Friday’s inspection report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission mirrored its results.
“Parents clearly expressed their frustration at a system which is, all too often, confusing, difficult to access and makes things much harder than they need to be”, they said. “The reality is that the lived experience of too many families is one of fighting every step of the way to get their voices heard when trying to get the help and support their child needs.”
Becky Stevens, from Ipswich, said she had struggled for 20 months to get extra support for her 14-year-old son, who has Asperger’s and attends Northgate High School.
Although her son has been given an education, health and care plan, she said it did not guarantee support.
“The process is failing,” she said. “It is far from being joined up and I find the council is full of excuses. The agencies continually change how they are structured, do not work together, and take no accountability at failing to adhere to the timescales.”
Cath Pickles, from Southwold, said she had to battle to get support for her now 19-year-old daughter Sarah Barrett, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
Mrs Pickles said: “I am having to fight tooth and nail.
If you can find the right person, if you can fight your way through the system, there are glimmers of excellence, but getting there is impossible.”
Clare Kingaby-Lewis, from Lowestoft, said she had to struggle for a year to get support for her son Samuel, who is autistic, and placed out of county, in Acorn Park School in Barnham in Norfolk.
“It was an awful experience,” she said. “Samuel was signed off school for a year due to the stress of being in the wrong setting.
“Our concerns were ignored, we weren’t invited to meetings about our son, we had to wait months for decisions to be made.
“Any excuse they could use they did. This had a huge impact on all the family.”
SPCN thanked SCC and the CCGs for involving it in the review process as well as the families “who demonstrated great courage in sharing their often heartbreaking experiences”.
You can discover more about the work of SPCN by clicking on their excellent website here.
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