Category Archives: News

Cheshire East Autism Team – Service update


Cheshire East Autism Team’s Interim Manager, Joan Sherry, has asked us to share a statement she sent to schools in in January 2020, clarifying how CEAT work to support schools to include children and young people with ASC and social communication difficulties.

The statement says:

CEAT’s offer to School from January 2020

CEAT’s way of working with schools to date has been through a number of methods i.e. training, consultations, school visits, parental support etc.  CEAT has recently undergone an in depth review of its service, looking at what is working well and areas for development. There have also been changes to staffing which will have an impact upon our capacity going forward. We have therefore needed to review our offer in order to ensure that we can continue to provide an equitable and effective service to schools. As part of this process, we have taken the opportunity to look at the schools allocated to our specialist teachers, making some changes with a view to providing more continuity of support from primary through to high schools and reducing travel time for the team. (A list of schools and the teachers allocated to them is attached).

The Jan/Feb half term will be a time of transition.  For those schools that will be having a change of specialist teacher, where possible both teachers will attend the first group consultation to allow for a smooth handover. School visits which are already booked will be honoured as far as possible.

Our programme of support and training for parents will continue in its present form.

We will monitor the service over the next few months and will welcome feedback (with regard to both strengths and areas for development).

The CEAT offer will be as follows:

Group consultations

Schools can bring to consultation children or young people they have concerns about who are presenting with social communication difficulties and/or autistic traits.  The student does not have to have a diagnosis of ASC for CEAT to become involved. Each school will continue to have the opportunity to access a group consultation once every half term. We will also be looking at whether it may be possible to split some of the larger consultation groups into smaller groups in order to ensure that all cases can be heard.

The process will remain the same i.e. :-

  • School provide signed parental consent prior to discussion at Consultation
  • School to complete a preparation form detailing strategies already tried and their impact. It should also be clear what specific concerns school wishes to have addressed at consultation. This should be sent to the relevant CEAT specialist teacher prior to the group consultation
  • Following consultation, school will complete the action plan section of the preparation form and return a copy to CEAT and send a copy to parents
  • Strategies to be implemented and recorded in the action plan prior to review at the next group consultation

Advice for EHCP

Requests for advice for EHCPs will continue to be completed where a child or YP is known to CEAT from a school visit (rather than simply through consultation). We may need to have a flexible approach across our service, meaning that we share the workload to keep advice timely (i.e. a visit and advice may be submitted by a team member who is not the school’s usual Specialist Teacher).


Annual Reviews

CEAT Specialist Teachers will attend annual reviews where the child is known to us and there is significant cause for concern e.g. the placement is in danger of breaking down.

Advice to support diagnosis

With our current capacity level, CEAT will provide support for diagnosis only if the child is known to us and they have been seen by a Specialist Teacher.  The most recent CEAT report can then be sent with a supplementary email or short telephone call, but an additional visit will not be possible.  If the child is not known to CEAT, then diagnosticians will need to receive an education report directly from the school. We are in discussions with Health regarding how best we can support diagnosis moving forward.

School visits:

A school visit may be requested if there are still significant concerns about a child or young person despite undergoing at least two cycles of plan, do, review via Group Consultation. In exceptional circumstances a visit could be requested sooner. With the current level of staffing, CEAT will have a limited capacity to offer school visits. We are looking at a probable allocation of either 0, 1 or two half day visits per term per school, depending upon the number of pupils on roll and the level of need. Such a visit could include:

  • Observation of a child/YP in lesson; 1:1 meeting with the child/YP (which may include an informal assessment); report submitted to school to be shared with parents
  • SCERTS observation
  • RAMP – specialist teacher to support school and parents to create a RAMP for a particular child/YP
  • Meeting with SENCO and/or class teacher to discuss one or more children and provide strategies

In addition, where appropriate we may also be able to offer a limited number of visits as follows:

  • CEAT SALT observation and assessment of child/YP, followed by a report with strategies for school to implement (referral via Specialist Teacher and only appropriate where NHS SALT are not involved)
  • Specialist Support Assistant (referral via Specialist Teacher)
    • Support Specialist Teacher to complete Informal Assessment
    • Advice and modelling to TA/Teacher re use of visuals
    • A short, targeted programme of 1:1 support for emotional literacy, self-esteem and self-awareness

Training offer

  • Staff meetings. This could be focussed on a particular child/yp who is causing concern, or on a specific area of ASC (45 – 60 min)
  • TA training – focus on specific techniques and strategies (45 – 60 min)
  • Bespoke training
    • 2 hours £175.00
    • Half day £250.00
    • Full day £500.00
  • 2 Day training
    • £75.00 for maintained school
    • £150.00 for Academies and Free Schools


Your Future! Options and information events for Young People

Thinking Ahead! Planning your future: information events for young people with SEND

Drop in events for all young people with SEND (age 12 years and above) and their families – no need to book!

* Youth Support Service * Education * Social Care * Health services * Activities *  Independent Living * Employment * Healthy Living *

  • Crewe – Thursday 26 March 2020
    Crewe Alexandra Football Club, CW2 6EB
    12.30 – 3.30pm and 5.30 – 7.30pm 
  • Macclesfield – Thursday 2 April 2020
    Macclesfield Town Hall, SK10 1EA
    12.30 – 3.30pm and 5.30 – 7.30pm

Any questions please contact Youth Support Service: 
Crewe –
Telephone: 01270 686923.
Macclesfield –
Telephone: 01625 384320

Meet your locality SEND Team – Parent Carer Coffee mornings

You are invited! Meet your Locality SEND team

Following the recent restructure of the Cheshire East SEND team (click here for more information on the SEND team restructure), we have arranged coffee mornings for parent carers to meet the SEND officers and Locality manager.

Click here for updated contact details for all SEND teams

North locality (Macclesfield, Knutsford, Wilmslow, Poynton)

Central locality (Sandbach, Congleton)

South locality (Crewe, Nantwich)

  • 3 March 2020, 10:30 to 12:30
  • The Lounge, Autism Inclusive – Unit 6, Brierley Business Centre, Crewe, CW1 2AZ


Short Breaks Re-Commissioning: Consultation Survey Results

Recently the Short Breaks Team consulted with parents, young people and short break providers to ask their views and priorities for short breaks. The responses will inform the re-commissioning of providers’ bids to provide short breaks for children & young people with SEND.

You can click here to see the results of those consultations:

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum has been invited to send a parent representative to participate in the consideration of the short listed bids. We would encourage members’ to contact us with any views or experiences they wish to share with their representatives – please email or call 07794431768

SEND Inspection Revisit – Information for Parent Carers

Following the Local Area SEND Inspection in 2018, Cheshire East SEND Partnership were required to put together a Written Statement of Action, setting out how they will address the key issued that were identified.

The next stage is that the inspectors will be coming back, to carry out a Revisit.  The SEND Partnership will get a call on a Monday to let them know, and the Inspectors’ next call should be to the Parent Carer Forum.

Cheshire East SEND Partnership are expecting to get the call anytime, and once we hear we will let you know, and will keep you updated throughout.

In the meantime, the SEND Partnership have put together a briefing for Parent Carers to explain what will happen and how the inspectors will gather their views and experiences.  Click here for the SEND Revisit Information for Parents as a PDF

About the Local area special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) re-visit
SEND re-visit due soon!

Cheshire East is expecting a SEND re-visit anytime between now and April 2020. This is a short guide so you know what this involves and what to expect.

What is a SEND re-visit?

The purpose of the SEND re-visit is for Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to assess if Cheshire East has made enough progress in addressing the two areas of significant weakness that they identified in the joint local area inspection of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in 2018.  The two areas were:

  • Area 1 – the timeliness, process and quality of education, health and care (EHC) plans
  • Area 2 – the lack of an effective autism spectrum disorder (ASD) pathway and unreasonable waiting times

The inspectors will review how effectively organisations in Cheshire East work together to support children and young people with SEND. In reviewing how well we work together, the inspectors will want to see evidence that we have made sufficient progress in these areas and be assured that we will continue to make further improvements going forward.

What will a SEND re-visit cover?

Cheshire East was required to submit a Written Statement of Action to Ofsted to explain what we would do to address the two areas that were identified in the 2018 SEND inspection. Since this time, members of the 0-25 SEND Partnership and Parent Carer Forum have been working hard to deliver what we said we would do in our Written Statement of Action.

The SEND re-visit will only focus on the progress made in these two areas. It will not review any other elements of support for children and young people with SEND. This means that if you take part in the inspection, inspectors will only ask you about these two areas.

The inspectors will be looking to see what impact our improvements have made to children and young people’s experiences and how our improvements have made a difference to children and young people and their families.

What happens during a re-visit?

The inspectors will contact Cheshire East Council and the Clinical Commissioning Groups on a Monday to announce the SEND re-visit. On this day the inspectors will also inform the Chairperson of the Parent Carer Forum of the re-visit. We will let you know that the inspectors are starting the SEND re-visit through the Parent Carer Forum.

The local area of Cheshire East will then have two weeks (ten working days) before the inspectors arrive on-site. During these two weeks, the local area sends the inspectors information about local services and the progress that has been made against the two areas. They will also work with the inspectors to arrange the timetable for when the inspectors arrive in week 3.

During the second week, the inspectors will invite parents and carers to give their views through an online survey. The survey will be available over five days and will ask for your views on what progress has been made so far in the two areas since the inspection in March 2018, and what difference this has made to you and your family.

The inspectors will arrive on the Monday of week three. On day one of the on-site visit the inspectors will meet with a variety of people. This will include the Parent Carer Forum. On this day the inspectors will also hold an open meeting with parents and carers to discuss what progress has been made in the two areas identified in our Written Statement of Action. Like the survey, this meeting will focus on what changes have been made in these two areas since the previous inspection in 2018, and what difference this has made to you and your family. The inspectors will want to know what is different since the inspection in March 2018, what is better, and how services listen to you and involve you.

On the final day of the re-visit, inspectors will meet with senior leaders of services in Cheshire East and inform them of their findings and whether sufficient progress has been made. At this point the findings cannot be shared as they may still change.

Findings of the re-visit

Following the re-visit, Ofsted and CQC will produce a letter that will inform Cheshire East of their decision as to whether the local area has made sufficient progress against each of the areas in our Written Statement of Action. This letter will be published on the Ofsted website and on the CQC website.

Want to know more?

For more information on the SEND re-visit, please refer to the inspection handbook (part 3).

Further information is also available on the role of the Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum.

For information on how we have been developing our services, please see our newsletter ‘SENDing you the news

Key Contacts


Update: “Improving Autism Assessment & Integrated Support for Children & Young People in Cheshire East”

The SEND Partnership has sent us the following update on Autism Assessment Pathways to share with parent carers in Cheshire East – you will see that there was a session in Macclesfield on 21 January and there are two lined up in Crewe where parents can meet representatives from this workstream and ask any questions
As always, CEPCF parent reps would also really like to hear your thoughts so that they can ensure they can represent you – please email call 07794431768 or through the Facebook group

Update for Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum: Improving Autism Assessment and Integrated Support for Children and Young People aged 0-25 Across Cheshire East
(Publication of Integrated Autism Pathways)

As many of you will know we have been working hard to reduce the waiting times for autism assessments for children and young people across Cheshire East and to improve the overall pathway and support available.

We want to update you on some of the improvements we have made to waiting times and the extra support that is now available across Cheshire East and to share with you the Integrated Autism Pathways that have been developed as part of this work.

During our joint area inspection by Ofsted and CQC in March 2018, Inspectors found that waiting times for autism assessment and diagnosis were far too long in some parts of Cheshire East and that there were gaps in the service. This meant that children and young people were not always getting timely access to the services they needed.

By listening to parents, carers, children and young people, along with health, social care, education and local charity experts we have made improvements to the existing services and commissioned some additional services. 

We will be holding a Drop-in sessions at Autism Inclusive on Thursday 6th February, 10am – 12noon and Wednesday 4th March, 6pm- 9pm to provide more information about this improvement journey and to answer your questions.

We have already held a drop-in session at Space 4 Autism, which was really helpful to check our updates against your actual experiences. Feedback from this session is being summarised and we are also looking into some specific issues some people have highlighted.

We know that there is still work to do and more improvements need to be made but we feel that together we have made good progress. Some of the actions we have taken include:

  • An All Age Autism Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) has been written. This helps us to understand the numbers of people affected by autism across Cheshire East and the types of support they may need both now and in the future.  It helps with planning and has informed the new All Age Autism Strategy for Cheshire East, this will be published very soon. 
  • We have invested in our autism assessment services to reduce waiting times in line with the three-month guideline recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). As a result, waiting times for assessment and diagnosis have fallen  despite a large rise in referrals locally.
  • In October 2018 there were 478 children and young people waiting for an autism assessment  in Eastern Cheshire, (where waits were particularly long), with the longest wait being 104 weeks (almost 2 years). By 6th December 2019 there were 29 children and young people waiting longer than 12 weeks and the longest waiting time for assessment was 17 weeks. The longest waiting time from referral to start of a specialist multi-disciplinary autism assessment was 12 weeks by 31st December 2019.  Across the South Cheshire area the average time for an assessment has been between 10-16 weeks.
  • We measure the waiting time for assessment based on the Guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which is from referral to the start of the multidisciplinary assessment.  We know that some children and young people have then waited after the assessment to receive the formal diagnosis and we have recently increased the medical time in the services to improve this wait and overall assessment process.  We are aiming for this to be reduced to a maximum of 4-weeks after the assessment has been completed. We are currently looking into all the cases where families have waited longer than this. We are also doing more work to review the overall waiting time from first appointment to the end of autism assessment and receiving the formal diagnosis to ensure that this overall timeframe is reasonable.
  • There has been recruitment for additional clinical staff to support the multi-disciplinary assessment of autism.  Speech and language therapists specialising in autism are now in post. The Clinical Care Coordination function is being reviewed with the aim of bringing greater consistency across the Cheshire East area.
  • A multi-disciplinary team of healthcare and education experts has been commissioned at East Cheshire NHS Trust on a recurring basis to complete autism assessments for pre-school children (age0 to 4 years) in Eastern Cheshire to ensure there is a consistent offer across Cheshire East. We are currently confirming the referral pathway into this service in response to questions from families.
  • We are offering consistent early intervention support as part of both a family-centred and settings approach with specialist support being offered in all children’s centres, including peer-led groups and workshops through our Early Start Team and seconded Health Visitors.
  • We have worked with local charities to commission additional pre and post diagnosis support and training for parents/ carers of children, young people on the pathway or with a confirmed diagnosis of autism. These community-based programmes offer practical help and strategies on issues such as sleep management, sensory advice, anxiety management and positive behavioural support. The programme in Eastern Cheshire has already supported 120 families and 466 training sessions have been delivered between 9th September and 13th January 2020. We have received very good feedback from people who have attended these courses and we are looking to expand them to offer more support for children, young people and adults living with autism. A similar support programme will commence across the rest of Cheshire East and Vale Royal in February (Northwich and Winsford) and March 2020 (Middlewich and Crewe).
  • We have developed an Integrated Autism Service Specification which is supported by a series of integrated pathways, to ensure that children, young people and their families can access appropriate help and support according to their level of need. These have been based on the Mental Health Child and Family Centred ‘Thrive Multi-agency Framework’. The aim is to ensure that services are working together around the needs of children, young people and families.

Click here for the Integrated Autism Pathways, which include:

  • Getting advice – first concerns/early identification (0-4 years & school age)
  • Getting help – local offer/specialist Autism assessment
  • Getting more help – pre and post-diagnostic support
  • Getting risk support – prevention of crisis/specialist risk support

We hope that this helps to provide you with an update on some of the improvements we have made. 

Cheshire East SEND team: New structure and posts announced for Jan 2020

Jacky Forster has sent us the following update and asked us to share with members

I am pleased to be able to share with you the new structure for the SEN Service and names of workers.

We still have a couple of vacancies but from the beginning of Jan the majority of posts in the structure are now filled.  We have a couple of post awaiting employment checks and will bring in additional agency to cover the couple of remaining posts from the new year.

I will update you as further positions are confirmed.

Changes in Key Manager Posts

You will be aware that Ian Donegani is leaving Cheshire East in January to spend more time with his family.  I would like to thank Ian for the contribution he has made to SEN over the last 4 years.

I have decided to create two Head of Service posts for the next 12 months in order to ensure that we can move the improvement of the service forward with greater pace.

I am delighted to inform you that Laura Rogerson will be stepping up into Head of Service – with responsibility for the Locality Teams with immediate effect.  Details of the other Head of Service will be provided when this is confirmed.

I am also delighted to inform you that we have now appointed to the three Locality Manager Posts

  • Matt Lowe – North
  • Chris Broadhurst – Central
  • Becky Boothroyd – South

Annual Reviews

In addition, I recognise that improvements to Annual Reviews are not progressing at the pace I had hoped.  I have therefore put in place an interim annual review team which will be in place until July, when we will review the ongoing capacity needs of the service.

Hannah Greensmith –  Team Manager supported by additional Key workers and business support.

Transition Arrangements

I am also aware that this is a busy time of year in terms of confirming transition arrangements.  I appreciate that this can be an anxious time for children and families and so I have put additional capacity in to support us in confirming these arrangements and provide time to allow for effective transition to new settings.

I hope this demonstrates the continued commitment to ensure we have the capacity and best skills and experience to further improve the SEN services to our children and families.

Jacky Forster,  Director of Education and Skills

You can click here to see the new structure for the Cheshire East SEN team (Jan 2020)

Max Cards

What is a Max Card?

The Max Card is a discount card for families who have children / young people (aged 0-25) with additional needs. You can see the offers on their website:

How do I get a Max Card?

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum has bought Max Cards to give to our members as an incentive to join and a thank you for participating in events / discussions / surveys etc.  They do cost us £3 each, so you will understand that numbers are limited to one per household and we ask you to please take care of them

If you are a parent carer to a child / young person (age 0-25) with additional needs and you live in Cheshire East, you can sign up to the members’ mailing list and apply for a free Max Card at the same time.

Click this link to sign up as a member of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum and request a free Max Card You do need to agree to receive our members’ updates, but there is no further commitment (however if you are interested in volunteering with the Parent Carer Forum you can ask for more info here too – we’d love to hear from you!)

What happens when I have completed this? 

You will start getting members’ updates from the very next one

One of our volunteers will check for new sign ups every week. They will check that you meet all the criteria ( new member, agree to receive emails, child or young person with additional needs, living in Cheshire East….) and send you an email with a link to a (very short!) survey to complete anonymously

This survey will take no more than 3 minutes to complete.

It gives us information about our members that we need in order to apply for the grant that pays for everything we do (including buying Max Cards). We do it separately so that we can comply with GDPR by keeping it anonymous.

Once you have completed the survey we get a notification that you have done it , but not which answers are yours.

The next time our volunteers checks the Max Cards they will look for completed surveys and send you out your Max Card.  *Please remember we are all volunteers, and parent carers ourselves – we will do ourselves to make sure we get the cards to you promptly, but you as you know life can sometimes get in the way – please check junk folders and feel free to send an email to to ask if you’ve been waiting a long time)

What about renewing an expired Max Card?

Max Cards are valid for up to 2 years, so some members may find that their Max Card has expired. Every members’ update email we send has the instructions for requesting a replacement – we cannot generate the email link without sending  a members update, so you may find it quicker to search for a previous update if you need to renew.

If you have lost your card please feel free to get in touch – we know that these things happen. We would ask that you please have a good look and may have to ask you to pay the £3 they cost us if you need more than one replacement.


Services at Monks Coppenhall Children’s Centre (Crewe)

Monks Coppenhall Children’s Centre, in Crewe   (Remer Street, CW1 4LY – call 01270 371240) is running sessions to support families of young children with additional needs.

Sensory room – there is a sensory room at the children’s centre that parents can call and book an hours slot to use the room. Families are welcome to come together but no more than 4 parents at one time due to the size of the room

Little Stars
 – Little stars is a weekly drop in group for parents who have children aged 0-4 with additional needs (no diagnosis is needed). This is a drop in group every Thursday between 1-2.30 so parents are welcome to attend at any time and stay for as long as they like. We have a variety of different activities set up for children including messy play and sensory activities. There is no booking required.

Sensory group – This is a 6 week programme that focusing on different sensory activities each week including messy play, mini spaces and lights and sounds. There will be a structure to the group including sit down time at the beginning and snack time, this is to support parents whose children may struggle with transitioning between activities as visual aids will also be used.
Parents would need to complete a referral form if they would like to attend the group and they are more than welcome to call the centre to speak to Sarah-Louise Sutton and she can fill this in for them.
These groups run term time and once a referral has been completed they will be added to our waiting list


Annual Review proposal – what’s your view?

As you may be aware, Cheshire East SEND team are struggling to make all amendments to EHC Plans suggested as a result of the annual review process.

They are therefore proposing to take a new approach to allow them to concentrate on making the most important changes within a timely manner.

When would the EHC plan be updated after an annual review?

  • When there has been a significant change to the child or young person’s need (this could include additional diagnoses’, change to presentation etc.)
  • At a key stage or phase change
  • When the child or young person starts an additional therapy (such as OT/physio), there are changes to an ongoing therapeutic programme or a discharge
  • Change to type of setting

What will happen at other times?

  • The setting should still carry out the annual review with the parent / young person and submit amendments to the SEND team
  • The SEND team will ensure that the EHC Plan review documentation and the letter explaining that we will make the changes on the next occasion is appended to the EHC Plan and becomes part of the advice listed in section K so that all that receive the EHC Plan are aware to look at the suggested amendments.
  • The SEND team will send a letter to the parents / young person stating that they have decided not to amend the plan
  • This letter will give parents / young people the Right of Appeal should they wish to challenge the decision

What if the parent / young person feels the EHC plan needs to be fully amended 

The SEND manager has said “Although this is what we would see as how we usually operate, if a parent carer had a specific reason why they wanted a change made we would be happy to discuss this further. “

This approach may only be a short-term measure until the new SEND staff are in place.

What do you think? 
Please email with your thoughts and any questions. We’ll pass them on and share the answers


Cheshire East Early Help Strategy

Cheshire East has updated their Early Help Strategy for 2019 – 2022

Early help is:
Intervening early and as soon as possible to tackle problems emerging for children, young people and their families, or with a population most at risk of developing problems. Effective intervention is a process and may occur at any point in a child or young person’s life.
Services offering early help are not just aimed at preventing abuse or neglect but at improving the life chances of children and young people as a whole this support can be around a wide range of issues, social and emotional skills, communication, the ability to manage your own behaviour and mental health mean a stronger foundation for learning at school, an easier transition into adulthood, better job prospects, healthier relationships and improved mental and physical health.

Click here to see the strategy in full 3. Early help strategy 2019-22 Final 1.7.19

SEND Partnership update, PCF update and feedback


On Tuesday 11 June Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum invited parents and professionals working in SEND services to come together for a coffee morning so that people could share information and chat.

We started with an update from Mandy Dickson, Chair of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum explaining what CEPCF does, what we have worked on in the last year and what we have planned for next year
Click here to see the PCF update

Jacky Forster, Chair of the SEND Partnership Board then shared an update on what progress has been made in the SEND Partnership
Click here to view update on SEND Partnership Board from Jacky Forster

We then sat down with coffees, teas (and some very good cakes!)

Parents were able to book ten minute appointment slots with some of the professionals attending, or to chat more generally with each other, with the PCF, CEIAS and the other professionals.

It was a trial run, and the feedback was really positive: Parents said “I’m really pleased I came” “Very useful, thank you” [What worked well?] “Everything! Great format!” and the important feedback “lovely cakes!”

We got some great suggestions and ideas on how to make the next one even better, and we were delighted that 100% of those who replied told us that if we run another parent & professional coffee morning they’d come so watch this space for the next one 🙂


Volunteering with the Parent Carer Forum

Have you ever thought about volunteering with the PCF?

Steering group, parent representatives, promotions, signposting, events planning and more behind the scenes – all our volunteers are parent carers too, so we know that these responsibilities always come first.

It’s a great way to use your experience to try to improve services for children & young people with special needs in Cheshire East (and their families). You’ll find out more about what’s happening and meet and support other parents.

Click this link to find out more about all the different ways, times and places you can volunteer with Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum

EHCP survey for children & young people

Cheshire East Youth Support Service would like to hear about children & young people’s experience of Education Health Care Plans

The survey is for children and young people who have (or used to have) an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) so that they can tell Cheshire East about the impact the EHCP has had on them and their lives.

If your child or young person would like to share their views please click here for the Cheshire East Children and Young People’s EHCP Survey

Coffee morning & AGM: Listening to you

Tuesday 11 June, 10am to 1pm at Holmes Chapel Community Centre

We have decided to try something new for our AGM this year; rather than having a topic and speakers, we are going to try something much less formal.

We have invited representatives from the services our families use (Cheshire East SEND, short breaks, commissioning, CEIAS, NHS, charities and more) to come along and meet the members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum.

We’d like it to be a constructive event: we all need to “tell it like it is”, but we also need to recognise we can’t change what’s has happened and to focus our energy on what can be done to make it better.

Please join us for tea / coffee, cake and the opportunity to talk with professionals from the LA and health about the issues affecting our families as parents of children & young people with additional needs in Cheshire East. 


Members’ questions & comments: response from Cheshire East

In March the Parent Carer Forum held an open Forum for Cheshire East Council SEND team to share the work that has been done to improve the process, timeliness and quality of Education Health and Care Plans.

While a lot of the work that has been done so far has concentrated on improving new needs assessment requests, many of the parents who came had questions and comments about the experience of children and young people who were already in the process of a needs assessment or had an Education Health Care Plan in place.  Due to the volume of these questions and comments we agreed that it would be best to collect them all and pass them to the SEND Partnership to reply fully.

We have now received a reply from Jacky Forster, the Chair of the SEND Partnership.

You can click here to read Jacky Forster’s reply

As Jacky says in her letter, she is happy to come along to future events, and she will be attending our Annual General Meeting on 11 June 2019.

Preparing for Adulthood Information Pack – feedback please

Cheshire East is producing a Transition Pack for young people.

It contains lots of information about transition / preparing for adulthood – the intention is to give a physical copy of the pack to young people, and they can add / remove pages to personalise and make it more relevant to them

They have asked us to invite parents and young people to look over the document and give them any feedback.

Click here to see the draft Transition Pack

Please email any comments / suggestions / other feedback to

The deadline for feedback is 23 May 2019 

ASC Service Specification – final draft for feedback

For review by Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum steering group in advance of the steering group meeting on 14/05/2019

WSB ASC Integrated Service Specification Final Draft 03.04.19

This document is the final draft of the service specification that has been drawn up by Workstream B, in response to the Ofsted / CQC inspection & resultant Written Statement of Action.

Since it was written they have received the following feedback / comments that have yet to be included in the document:

Comments received and incorporated from:

  • Dr Lesley Bayliss, Clinical Lead (Women & Children at ECCCG)
  • Dr Nichola Bishop, Clinical Lead (Women & Children at SCVRCCG)
  • Andy Mills, Senior Commissioning Manager, Adult Social Care and Health/ Interim PSTP Preventing Poor Mental Health Prog Lead 
  • Cheryl Knupfer, Stockport Autism Team/Cheshire East Council
  • Jo Vitta, Commissioning Manager SCVRCCG
  • Jamaila Tausif, Associate Director SCVRCCG
  • Jacky Forster, Director Cheshire East Council
  • Nicola West, Principal Educational Psychologist and Teaching Teams Manager, Cheshire East Council
  • Dave Leadbetter, Head of Children’s Commissioning, Cheshire East Council
  • Penny Hughes, DCO Eastern and South Cheshire CCGs
  • Gill Tyler, DCO Vale Royal CCG
  • Ian Donegani, Head of SEND, Cheshire East Council

Other general comments that have not yet been included:

  • Let’s give it a snappy title East Cheshire Integrates Autism Service (ECIAS)
  • Include something about Safeguarding procedures in Standards
  • I think we need to discuss this age range to reconcile NICE guidance and LA requirements
  • The spec should be 0-25 years
  • What about social care – not sure we have considered a SW in the pathway
  • We need co-training with parents
  • Important to mention training workforces and Cheshire East as a community as suggested in the strategy
  • Reference to care planning (not only social care) but about anyone in a position to provide care (support) to family/person.
  • Really good, especially when looked at with the pre and post pathways and looks like a functioning ‘system’
  • A consistent approach is needed throughout key transitions from early years to primary, secondary and post 16 with flexibility around setting
  • Positive behaviour therapy should not be ABA
  • Include more on the co-production work with PCF and including the future work planned directly with young people
  • Should we specify that all parents receive Cygnet training post diagnosis?
  • Is there a TOMS type model that can be applied to autism?
  • Can we apply risk matrix type approach adopted by SALT

Big list of links discussed at the EHCP Open Forum 8/3/19


Thanks again for coming on Friday

This is a very quick follow up with some of the links that were discussed on the day

Q&A to follow (I still haven’t finished typing up the questions, let along started getting the answers, but I will get this back to you as soon as I am able)

Best wishes


Home Education and SEND – information morning

We know that some of our members choose to home educate their children and young people with special educational needs because that works best for them and for their families.  We also know that some others home educate because they feel they don’t have any other option, and many more have told us that they fear they may have to if they cannot find a school or college place that works for their child or young person.

We invited speakers to come and share their expertise and experiences in this area with our members: Karen Lynch from Cheshire East Information Advice & Support (CEIAS),  John Fowler (Elective Home Education for Cheshire East), Nikki (a parent who is home educating her son) and Steph – a young person with additional needs who was home educated.

Our panel of experts

Karen Lynch talked about what CEIAS can do to support parents and young people when their school or college placement isn’t working as they’d like – you can click here to see her presentation, and click here for more information on CEIAS including how to contact them

John Fowler shared some facts and pointed out some common misunderstandings about elective home education.

Nikki Greenford is a parent who home educates her son. They decided to try home education having exhausted all other options. They started with a very structured routine but now follow a more active and outdoor approach including conservation, volunteering and working towards his Duke of Edinburgh’s award. They go to activities put on by the National Trust, Cheshire East Countryside rangers and other organisations, which are usually shared through the Home Education Facebook group.

She explained that it is a unique journey for each individual family. There are some real downsides: there is no break, all responsibility is on you, so if you don’t do it it doesn’t get done, and it can have a real impact on financial and domestic arrangements; in Nikki’s case she has stopped work completely while her partner works away for 5 days a week.

it’s a big decision, but not one she regrets at all – her son is very happy and is thriving.

Steph is a young person who was home educated and is now at university. She spoke to our members about her experience of being home educated and how this has affected her. You can see Steph’s presentation here:
My home education journey My Home Education Journey.

We then opened the discussion for questions – you can see the Q&A here:
20181019 Home Q & A

Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum would like, once again, to thank all those who took part for sharing their experiences and expertise. If you have any questions that were not raised that you would like us to ask our panel, please email & we will pass it on.

Transport – TSS & CEC response

In September 2018 Cheshire East & Transport Service Solutions invited parent carers to a meeting to discuss the issues experienced with agreeing and communicating home to school / college transport arrangements for children and young people with SEND around the beginning of the academic year.

Following this meeting, they have asked us to share this response:


TSS & CEC PCF Meeting Response Sept 18 (Full transcript at the bottom of this page)

They also attended our November steering group meeting, and agreed to invite a parent representative to work with TSS & CEC to agree processes and to get clear information on the Live Well website that will state clearly:

  • timescales & process – how / when to apply, what will happen by when
  • who parents should contact with questions or concerns about the transport arrangements that have been proposed
  • one-page profiles: how parents and young people can flag their individual needs
  • what should be done if there is a change – how TSS will keep parents informed, as well as who parents need to notify of any changes and who to do that



This document details the main issues raised by PCF during the meeting with CEC & TSS representatives together with the responses and resulting actions.

Awareness of policy changes
The timing of reminder mailshots and texts was explained together with the detailed presentation given to PCF on 12 June. The main impact would have only been for post-16 pupils because of the transition arrangements agreed for existing pre-16 students in receipt of transport.

Is there a breach of regulations when the parental contribution means that parents are paying more
that if they had opted to use college bus services when available?
This had previously been reported at a PCF meeting and the transport officer is investigating how this can be rectified if it is an issue

Poor communications between CEC/SEND and TSS
The new process was explained but it was apparent that some improvement in information exchange was needed. This would be reviewed along with other processes introduced this year and any changes implemented as soon as possible so as not to impact on transport provision next year.

Poor communications between TSS/ CEC and parents including lack of information about operators and PAs
It was accepted that this needed to be improved with the ideal situation being transport arrangements being notified to parents by the end of July. Work will be undertaken to ensure adequate time is allowed for route planning to allow this to take place.

Phone calls not returned
This was accepted and had partly resulted from the increased volume of calls being received. In the case of TSS this was dealt with by introducing a call triage arrangements had been put in place by TSS when they became aware that this was an issue.
CEC and TSS will look to revise the TAAP process for post 16 applications including scheduling meeting dates in advance.

Last minute changes of operators and/or drivers
These are partly caused by last minute refusal of tenders by operators and delays in processing of request actions taken in. Pulling the whole process forward should alleviate some of these issues.

Journey times too long
Journeys are planned to be within the published guidance times where this is possible given the distance being travelled. In some cases generous journey times have been quoted initially to ensure punctual arrivals. These are usually reviewed within a few days once traffic conditions are assessed.

Stress caused to parents
This was agreed as totally unacceptable and an apology given

Planning needs to be done earlier (esp. Yr11)
This was agreed and CEC and TSS will be reviewing the timescales shortly with a revised plan for 2019/20 school year planning.

Why have some post-16 students been charged and some not when the circumstances are identical?This should not have happened and all cases will be cross-checked to ensure that the policy was applied correctly

Potential for using online reviews (both good & bad) as part of the tender judgement?
Negative and often anonymous reviews would not form a reliable basis for tendering judgements. However it was agreed that comments from parents could be logged and used to inform future tendering rounds

Why do contracts with the same operator not continue year on year thus giving stability
Where possible, contracts are awarded for the duration of an individual’s attendance at a particular school. However changes do sometimes need to be made when other pupils move or new children from similar areas come on stream and shared transport arrangements have to be reassessed. In some cases operators no longer wish to operate a contract so give notice to terminate and a new provider is needed.

How is medical training for PAs checked?
Our specialised transport officer is made aware when we are awarding a new contract for a child who needs a trained PA, if the PA has not already received training via us through a hospital we will contact the nurse for available dates. We keep a list of PA’s who have received the training. If a PA claims to have received the training but we don’t hold a record of this then we can check with our contact at the hospital to see if they have done the training.

Parents don’t know the best point of contact for a range of travel issues
It was agreed that this does need to be clarified. We will explore the possibility of producing a quick reference guide to be sent to each parent giving the correct contact points for different circumstances.

Concern about reporting safeguarding issues (e.g. driver slapping pupil)
This was accepted as a potentially serious issue. We will explore the possibility of establishing an online reporting system to ensure that full details are accurately recorded and acted upon quickly.

PCF Steering Group Meeting – October headlines

Headlines from the parent carer forum steering group 09/10/2018:

  • Cheshire East SEND team will be contacting all parents of children on EHC plans as part of their plan to improve the quality of EHCP s after the Ofsted review.
    They will also be asking external peer reviewers to assess the quality of plans in Cheshire east.
    Click here to see IPSEA’s guidance on what an EHCP should contain, and a link to their EHCP checklist
  • CEIAS are planning to review how they reach out to families or groups who don t access their service at the moment but need their support or advice.
  • The parent carer forum is still feeding back the on going difficulties with transport and requesting meeting times. 
  • The group also heard presentations about a new framework about preparing for adulthood that could be used to help everyone start thinking about this as early as possible
  • High Peak school – a residential school for children and young people with various Special educational needs that has accepted children referred by Cheshire East.

Family Fund

We have been contacted by Family Fund, who have asked us to share some information about what they do

Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Their grants help break down some of the many barriers faced by families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and cover a variety of things that may be of benefit, such as household items, family breaks and specialist equipment.

Find out more at, call us on 01904 550055, email us at or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

To learn more about how our grants help families, read Amy’s Story below –

Case Study

Amy is 17 years old, and lives in Cheshire. She has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and has been awarded multiple grants from Family Fund since her mum’s initial application in 2004.

“We heard about Family Fund a long time ago now, when Amy was only small,” says her mum, Claire. “We used to take her to a place at the infirmary called the Mary Sheridan Centre, and one of the members of staff there mentioned it to us.”

“Amy has autism. She is non-verbal, and is still in nappies, which impacts various parts of our lives. Even though she is non-verbal, she understands everything that you tell her, and she is very intelligent. So we just have to make sure we are constantly telling her what we are doing.”

“She is going to college at the moment, which has been great for her, but she is still very routine-based. If anything unexpected happens, she doesn’t take it very well.”

“Over the years we have received several things from Family Fund. We have had a washer, a fridge-freezer… then more recently the iPad. I think the first thing I applied for was the washer dryer, which we needed because Amy needs a lot of changes of clothes during the day.”

“Another year I applied for bedding for Amy. That meant she could stay at my mum’s house and I could have a little break. I remember that being really helpful at the time.”

“We definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford any of the items ourselves. We have got limited family who we could have asked for help, and so we probably would have had to do it through loans or credit cards, which I obviously did not want to do because we would struggle to pay them back.”

“Family Fund has been an absolutely tremendous help with everything that we have had and been through. I am just so thankful that they exist.”

Cheshire East SEN Team – timescales & communications

A high number of parent members have told us that they have had problems getting in contact with the SEN team, and with the timescales of annual reviews.

We raised these issues with Tracey Beardmore-Evans, who is the SEND Service Manager for Cheshire East, and she asked us to share this statement:

“We regret to inform you that we are currently in a position where we have a backlog of annual review returns, for which we would like to apologise sincerely. This has occurred due to staff sickness. We are currently in the process of identifying a team of skilled and experienced plan writers to enable us to respond as quickly as possible

 “We are also dealing with a very high level of incoming work at this current point in time, and the issues around sickness are impacting our ability to offer the quick response and level of service that we aspire to provide. We have had an experienced member of the team move on to other opportunities recently and another two members of staff are due to move on in the next few months. We are taking immediate steps to try and limit the impact that this has but we would appreciate your patience and understanding whilst we appoint new team members”.

She also asked us to tell parents that if they were having any problems getting in touch with an individual members of staff, then they can call 01625 378042 or forward their emails to

Quick quiz! Live Well

Cheshire East have asked the Parent Carer Forum to ask our members for some feedback and suggestions on their Local Offer website.
The Local Offer is a Local Authority’s publication of all the provision “they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.” (Section 4.1 SEND Code of Practice, January 2015)

Transport – have your say

We are aware that many of our members have had a really bad experience with their child or young person’s SEND home to school / college transport this year.

We have spoken to Cheshire East & TSS to raise the issues, and ask them to confirm what the process should be, what has gone wrong and how they will make sure it doesn’t happen again next year.

Ian Donegani (Head of Service, SEND & Inclusion at Cheshire East) replied to say he would like to meet directly with parents to hear about the issues they have experienced, and would invite representative from TSS (Transport Solution Services) to also come along to listen and answer questions.

The first of these meetings is on Friday 21 September, at 10:30am in Sandbach: if you would like to attend please email or call 07794431768

We are hoping to hold more meetings so that as many people as possible can attend and have their voice heard – if you would be interested please email to let us know what areas / times of day you could attend.

If you cannot get to a meeting in person you can still have your say click here to open our quick quiz survey on SEND Transport to school / college

Summer Partnership Picnic – 21st June 2018 (Congleton)

Children & young people with SEND, and their families are invited to a summer picnic!

Come along for some after school / college fun – a picnic, some fun activities and the chance to have your say on how you would like to work with the local authority SEND team, social services and health services.

It’s at Congleton Town Hall on 21 June 2018, from 4.15pm – click here to book your place

Mental Health: presentations from our AGM

We were very lucky to welcome a great line up of speakers and stalls at our AGM on 8 May 2018

We have had requests from attendees for more information, as well as from members who couldn’t make it on the day, so we are pleased to share the slides and contact details

  • Carrying heartache: a presentation on being a parent carer, and how that experience gives a professional a different insight
    Chris Jaydeokar (co-Chair of CEPCF) Carrying sadness presentation slides
  • Cheshire East Council SEND transformations developments update
    Ian Donegani (Head of Service for SEND and Inclusion Cheshire East Council) SEND update presentation
  • Mental Health Pathways – developments in Cheshire East
    Graham Dyson: Mental Health Commissioning -NHS South Cheshire, Vale Royal CCG
    Shelley Brough Head of integrated commissioning
    Dave Ledbetter Head of Children’s commissioning
    Hayley Burnham Senior Contracts officer Cheshire East Council Commissioners presentation
    Matthew Howard Clinical Director CAMHS CAMHS slides
    Trish MacCormack General Manager Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

  • Presentation on autism
    Barney Payne CAMHS LD community Nurse CWP

  • Mindfulness workshop
    Dr Ceri Woodrow Clinical Psychologist CWP
    Adapted Mindfulness May 2018

SEND Youth Forum

If you know someone aged 11 – 25 who has SEND and would like to get involved in the services they use please pass this on. Next meeting will on Monday 30 April, and they will be looking at what issues are important to young people in the local area and making a plan of action.

(They are also looking to set up meetings in Macclesfield – we’ll let you know once we have more information)

Stay & Play (Stockport)

STAY AND PLAY SESSION – for parents and carers with a child between 6 months and four years with complex needs

Every Wednesday morning parents and carers come along to have a good time together while supporting their child’s learning through play.
Our activities can help improve the development of skills in communication, early exploration and movement, as well as increasing your child’s confidence and independence. Having time and space to play in this way gives children the chance to meet and have fun with others, getting involved in activities you can also try at home.
We know how demanding caring for your child with complex needs can be and Stay and Play is great for Parents and Carers too. Our friendly group is a chance to meet others, share experiences and build lasting friendships and support.
Seashell Trust Stay and Play is for babies and young children aged between 6 months and four years with a severe profound learning disability and: a significant visual impairment and / or visual processing problems and / or moderate to profound hearing loss or loss of auditory processing mechanisms

Stay and Play is completely FREE but we do ask that you contact us before attending your first session to book your place. Please call 0161 610 0741 or email

Ofsted & CQC SEND Inspection: Webinar for parents

All parents and carers of children or young people (age 0 – 25) who have any SEN (whether they have an EHCP or not) are invited to take part in a webinar with the Inspectors on Thursday 8 March, from 1.30 – 2.30 pm. 

Click this link to register to take part in this webinar


Several parents have contacted as they do not know what a webinar is or how it works, so we’d like to share some more information. 

What do I need to take part in the webinar?
You will need a computer, mobile or tablet so that you can get online and see the webinar

You will need to be able to hear the webinar. You can do this from your device, or alternatively, there is a phone number you can ring so you can hear it as a phone call.

You need to be available to take part for about half an hour from 1:30 pm on Thursday 8 March. As it is online, you can do it from wherever you are, just so long as you have internet access.

How do I get set up?
Click this link to register for the Cheshire East SEND Inspection Parents Webinar.
You will be asked for your email address, so they can send you the full instructions, including an email address so you can contact them to ask any questions you may have beforehand.

These instructions contain a link you can click that will check your laptop or device will work before the webinar starts. 

The instructions also include another link for you to click on on Thursday to take part.

What will happen during the webinar?

During the webinar, the inspectors can’t see us, but we’ll see the questions they ask (on your computer, smart phone or tablet) and hear these being asked.

We don’t need to speak, we just click our answer and type in our comments or questions.

All information gathered will be anonymised.

It is likely to last around half an hour only, so try to join in promptly

Cheshire East’s Post 16 Travel Policy Statement for 2018/19 consultation

Notice from Cheshire East Council:
We are writing to advise you that the consultation on the Post 16 Travel Policy Statement for 2018/19 is now open and will close at 5pm on Friday 6th April.

Following consideration of the updated guidance entitled Post-16 transport to education and training from the Department of Education dated October 2017, changes made to other Education Travel policies, and input from Post 16 providers at the workshop in November, the Post 16 Policy Statement has been updated for the academic year starting 1st September 2018.

The final version, once approved, will be published on the Council’s website by 31st May 2018.

The policy statement provides information for Cheshire East students and their parents about the travel assistance available to them when continuing in education or training beyond compulsory school age .  It relates to Post 16 learners who are

  • aged 16-18 years of age including those with special educational needs and disabilities
  • aged 19 years of age including those with special educational needs and disabilities who started a course before their 19th birthday and who continue to attend that course
  • Adults under 25 years of age, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, with or without an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) who wish to attend an educational course.

Please note that there are some key changes between the proposals for 2018/19 and the current travel provision and I would encourage you to read the Policy Statement and supporting information.

To access the consultation and supporting information:

Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and 11) and Key Stage 5 (sixth form) learners and their parents/carers are invited to participate in the consultation.

Volunteer opportunities: We need you!


What do PCF volunteers do?

It can be a regular commitment (as a parent representative working with the Local Authority on areas like SEN, social care or short breaks) or a one off short term project (as a parent representative looking at a particular project or task like assessing bids for commissioning or job applicants for key SEN roles), joining our steering group to help behind the scenes, or simply agreeing to read over documents with a parents-eye-view from the comfort of your sofa.


It is very rewarding – our volunteers have found it a good way to put their experience & expertise to good use, and to feel like we are making a difference in areas that matter so much to our families.

 We can’t pay you for your time, but we will cover any travel or childcare expenses

How do I know what to do…?

We offer some training and lots of support  – it has been a great way to get some skills and experience for cv while caring commitments might stop us taking on other employment, and it’s a good way to gain (or regain) a bit of confidence and use it!

We try to send parent representatives in pairs whenever possible (and always for your first few meetings!) so you have some back up and a chance to see what happens

What if I can’t make a commitment?

We are all parent carers ourselves, so we understand that our families are our priorities and there will be times when they have to we have to drop out.

Tell me more…..?

We’re holding an event for you to come along and find out more – no commitment! Click here for full info on the volunteer information lunch

If you can’t make it to the event that’s fine – just give us a call or email and we’ll catch up for a chat

CASCAIDr – The Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution

What is CASCAIDr?

CASCAIDr is a new national advice charity, providing specialist legal advice about everyone’s rights to have their needs for care and support decided lawfully, reasonably and fairly.

Click here to visit the CASCAIDr website

What does its name stand for?

The Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution

What is its aim?

To reinvigorate the rule of law within local government and that part of the NHS responsible for commissioning care and support packages for those with complex health needs.

We aim to empower and support people, their carers and practitioners to resolve disagreements about access to services – and, in doing so, ensure that those suffering disability or an impairment are not needlessly dragged into poverty or despair.


Why is it needed?

Whilst there is a growing understanding of the impact that austerity measures have had on social and health care provision, few are aware of the complexity of legal duties, powers and responsibilities owed to our most vulnerable members of society.

Most people only seek support or come to rely on social care services and funding in times of crisis.

Family members and carers, exhausted by providing dedicated care, rarely have the energy required to navigate referral processes or complaints procedures to secure fair processes and lawful packages of care.

As none of us can know our own future, we all need public sector decision-making to be properly governed by the law and sound legal principles.


What sort of problems will CASCAIDr be taking on?

Access to funded advocacy rights;  whether assessments are compliant with the law; whether councils are following the statutory Guidance; rights to funds for sufficient levels of care to avoid support needs escalating or sacrificing carers’ wellbeing; the legality of cuts to care plans.


How will CASCAIDr do this?

By providing free and outcome-focused advice and a checklist and a pre action protocol letter to individuals with problems that are within our ‘free scope’ list.

CASCAIDr will also provide chargeable but low-cost advice on a wider range of problems, to those needing support in relation to submitting complaints and accessing other remedies.


What has crowdfunding have to do with CASCAID’s strategy?

Where issues can’t be resolved through dialogue and a barrister has given a positive opinion on the merits of the case, CASCAIDr may support crowdfunding to secure legal challenges. This not only strengthens an individual’s position, but also supports widespread lawful decision-making by clarifying any areas of uncertainty in the current legal framework.

What sort of people will CASCAIDr help?

Individuals – service users, carers, relatives, brokers, advocates, appointees, attorneys, deputies. Charitable Organisations – providers of care and support, and advocacy organisations with charitable status…

What about non-charitable organisations? Can they get help from CASCAIDr too?

Non-charitable organisations and individuals seeking advice outside CASCAIDr’s charitable scope can source chargeable but affordable advice from CASCAIDr Trading Ltd. All profits of that company will directly fund the provision of free legal advice through the charity’s work.

What does CASCAIDr’s service include?

  • A telephone helpline – 4 days a week – for a booked half hour free ‘steer’ for people who are not sure if they’ve even got a legal problem
  • A referral form for people to fill in online
  • Volunteers to help people to express all the relevant detail of their predicament, if they are struggling
  • Expert advisers who will produce the checklist and letters that are the free output
  • Support and guidance for those who want to crowdfund to bring formal legal proceedings.

What can people expect?

CASCAIDr advisers will:

  • Analyse a situation for omissions to comply with the Care Act or public law principles
  • Give the client a checklist to take back to the council/CCG
  • Write a letter in the form of a pre-action protocol letter, setting out what’s not been done correctly
  • Seek advice on the client’s behalf, from a direct access barrister
  • Consider helping the client crowdfund so that council or CCG knows that the client can, if required, challenge unlawful decisions in Court.

Is there anything that CASCAIDr won’t do?

We won’t

…act as a gun for hire: we care about our credibility and we won’t put forward a case just because you’d like us to, or would pay us money to do so – we care about the coherence of the legal framework, and aspire to supporting the achievement of a sustainable social care system;

…take your matter on, if it’s not within our advisers’ expertise – on which our judgement must be respected as final;

…act for both sides to a dispute, unless specifically asked, by both sides, to mediate with regard to the legal strengths and weaknesses of the parties, based on an agreed statement of facts.


Does CASCAIDr offer training on the legal framework?

We’ll be offering affordable training, too, in the form of webinars and lectures for universities, charitable providers and advocacy organisations.

Any organisation that is not charitable will be able to purchase the same services from CASCAIDr TRADING Ltd, our trading subsidiary, albeit at a slightly higher rate – with all net profits going back to the Charity.

Both organisations will be run on a shoe-string – no employees, just self-employed advisers and volunteers. We will have some expenses, obviously, but aim to be one of the lowest cost advice charities around.

Where will all the money come from?

Members of the public, organisations such as care providers, housing associations and, large foundations interested in social justice.

All donations attract GiftAid or will be tax deductible for corporate bodies, because we are a registered charity.

We want “Collaborating with CASCAIDr, to uphold legal rights’ to be a badge of pride, one day, for sophisticated health and social care businesses!

Are there people who’ve already benefited from CASCAIDr’s support?

Yes. We already have the stories and some photos for this range of happy beneficiaries

  • service users who were told that they could only expect the cost of a service that no other reasonable authority could have thought of as suitable;


  • clients who have been able to win back services for their psychological and emotional wellbeing;


  • young people evicted from care homes simply because their relatives made complaints, restored to secure status and supported to move on, after proper planning;


  • carers who have been supported to pull back from levels of care that were killing them, once proper services were obtained for their loved one;


  • parents of severely disabled people, supported to fight cuts that had been suggested without any rational reason, other than austerity;


  • clients who’ve been denied CHCs,


  • businesses whose clients have been supported to dispute illicit top-ups


  • clients who’ve been helped to fight illicit charges levied outside the Care Act rules


  • a client helped to remain in his mother’s home because of having given up his own accommodation to help care for her


  • a man who was supported to explain why he would not be moving his mother from her care home, or paying any more top-ups, since the council’s documentation was not compliant with the legislation.


Ways to share in our journey:

Visit our website catch up on some of our early good news stories, where our advisers have already changed people’s lives, by use of legal principle.

Get on Social Media!

  • Twitter: @CASCAIDr – please follow us here
    • Mention/Tweet about @CASCAIDr – for hashtags we’re going to be using #socialcare, #CASCAIDr, #isitok, #carecrisis and #LovingLegalLiteracy
    • PLEASE re-tweet our fundraising ‘call to action’ Tweets 4-15 December
    • View or subscribe to our lists on @CASCAIDr
  • Facebook – CASCAIDr’s organisation page, click here to view
    • from that page, please like, comment on and share CASCAIDr posts …
  • LinkedIn – look up Belinda Schwehr and connect here
    • you may also like to join the special interest group Adult Social Care Legal Developments – click here to view

Want to volunteer? Click here

Want to advise? Click here

How to Donate –

  • Please, please DONATE ( charges only 15p for the card transaction, or 65p for a credit card…)
  • All individuals’ donations will ultimately attract GiftAid, when HMRC gives us a certificate!
  • We get 25% extra if you eventually complete our GiftAid declaration, so that’s massive!
  • If you’re a higher rate tax payer, and you give us £8, we’ll get £10 and you’ll get £2 back! So for £6 from you, we get £10! How great is that?
  • All corporate donations are tax deductible, as we are a registered charity.

Help us fundraise

  • You can set up your own fundraising sub-page on, if you’d enjoy doing ANYthing that will raise funds and awareness! You need to register in person on that link and then it will set you up with a sub-page, linked to CASCAIDr’s bank account. Tell us!
  • You could start a collection at your workplace or pass on this document link to interested colleagues.
  • You can send this Twitter Moment (here) on to contacts on WhatsApp, for free, once you’ve opened the link to the Moment on your phone.

Get in touch?

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EHIPs & Short Breaks questions: response from Cheshire East Short Breaks Team

We have received the following response to our members’ questions from from Keith Martin and the Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team.  We will contact all members with details once we hear about future briefing events.  

Remember, if you need to contact the team you can do so by calling 01625 378083 or sending an email to

Q: What is EHIPS?
Please can we have a description / definition – is it for the benefit cared for and / or carer? 

Early Help Individual Payments (EHIP’s) form part of the Local Authorities Short Break Support for Parent Carers of Disabled Children.  The second part of the Short Break Support is the commissioned services that provide activities and clubs.

An EHIP is an annual payment of up to £1,000 for parent carers of disabled children under the age of 18 to purchase support for themselves that would enable them to take a break from their caring responsibility.  The payment is for the parent carer, however the support that is purchased should be meaningful for their child.

Q: Who is eligible?
What criteria are applied – does it remain unchanged while CCiL are managing? If so please state clearly what current criteria are and what they will be from transfer

If a child is receiving High Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA), either care and or mobility component or a young person aged 16 or 17 is receiving Personal Independence Payment  (PIP) either care and or mobility component then the parent carer is eligible for an EHIP’s.  We use DLA and PIP as our eligibility criteria as this is a way of us determining that the child has a disability without having to undergo an assessment.  Although we use Department of Works and Pensions (DLA and PIP) as our eligibility, EHIP’s are not part of the Benefit System, they are solely administered as part of our Short Breaks Local Offer

This will remain unchanged whilst the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) manage the EHIP’s process.  CCIL will cease to manage this contract from April 1st 2018, when EHIP’s will move to the New Short Breaks Team. 

We will continue to use this eligibility criteria after 1st April 2018, however we are going to expand the criteria as we are aware that recent changes in DLA and PIP has meant that some children and young people previously able to access them no longer can.  To ensure that these children and young people are able to access support we will also consider children and young people eligible for an EHIP if they could not access any of our commissioned support without an EHIP, for example a child who could only access one of our activity groups with 1:1 support.  This will be determined on a case by case basis for those children and young people not in receipt of DLA or PIP.

Q: What can it be spent on?
Please give a clear definition, including examples of what is and isn’t acceptable. 
Members have cited several instances where their claim seems to meet the description, but has not been allowed, leaving them out of pocket
This situation then leaves others fearful of spending the benefit as they cannot afford to risk being left out of pocket themselves

EHIPs can be spent on support that provides the parent carer with a break from their caring responsibility, whilst ensuring something meaningful for the child. 

Good examples of the use of EHIPs:

  •  Paying for a carer or personal assistant to take the child or young person out on an activity
  • Paying for a carer or personal assistant to accompany the family on a holiday
  • School holiday clubs
  • Membership to a sports club or gym for the child or young person
  • Fees for a youth club or other social clubs, that are not already part of our commissioned short break services
  • Specialist disability swimming lessons or trampoline clubs
  • Paying for your child or young person to attend a residential break

Q: Please share the guidelines referred to previously, that set out the requirement that parents have to be separate from their child / YP in order for it to constitute a short break for the parent

The national statutory guidance requires local authorities to provide short breaks that give parent carers a break from their caring responsibilities.  If for example a parent uses their EHIP to pay for a holiday in which they accompany their child, this does not constitute a short break, as the parent is there caring for the child.  If however the parent uses the EHIP to pay for a carer to accompany them on the holiday, who will take responsibility in whole or in part for caring for the child or young person, then this does constitute a short break.  The same might apply to buying a Merlin card for a carer to take the child out so a parent can have a break. The Short Breaks Team will be able to give families advice on how best they can use their EHIP’s

The statutory guidance that all local authorities have to work too is entitled ‘short breaks for carers of disabled children’ which we have included as a link below.  EHIPs constitutes part of Cheshire East’s short break ‘local offer’, this is the short breaks that are available to children, young people and their families without having to undergo an assessment of need, either through the National Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their Families or the Common Assessment Framework.

The Children Act 1989 (“the 1989 Act”) states that local authorities have a duty to provide, as part of the range of services they provide for families, breaks from caring for carers of disabled children to support them to continue to care for their children at home and to allow them to do so more effectively.

Q: What options are available for families whose children’s / YP’s needs are too complex for them to be go to activities without their primary carer?
Many parents have raised that they can no longer spend the money because of the requirement to be away from the child / yp – esp where there are attachment issues
Please can you share the alternative routes, including links to the charities mentioned by Cat, and direct payments

In terms of short break activities, this issue is about choice for parents and carers.  You should not be made to stay by our commissioned providers as by doing so you are not being given a break from you caring responsibilities.  If however you are given the choice to stay, for example to attend a parent coffee morning being run by the same provider and you decide for yourself that you would like to stay, that is fine.  Ultimately you must feel as parent carers that you have the ability to make a decision for yourself about whether you would like to stay or not. And not have the choice taken out of your hands.

If a child or young person is not able to access any activity independently or with a carer, therefore the parent carer is unable to receive a break from their caring responsibility, then EHIP’s is not the best way of supporting the child or young person.  In this situation we would be very happy to complete an assessment or to signpost families to providers outside of our short breaks local offer

Q: What reassurance can you offer to families whose previous experiences with Social Services has left them reluctant to try again?
Many parents have raised that they are not willing to go through the process of applying for SS assessments. They have experienced intrusive assessments (for example questioning them on their criminal background, drug / alcohol consumption, checking their standards of housekeeping, the child’s bedding, how safely the bleach is stored etc…) only to be told that as they are coping they do not qualify for any additional support. If this is no longer the experience then this is a great opportunity to explain what has changed & to reassure users.

These issues have been acknowledged by the authority and as a direct result of the feedback previously received from parent carers via the parent carers forum and others working with disabled children we have established a specialist children with disabilities social work team and the new short breaks team.  All members of both teams have experience of working with disabled children.  We have already received positive feedback from many parents and others across the wider disability network that this is improving assessment and service delivery.

We hope that these developments will reassure parent carers that we are committed to improving how we support disabled children and their families in line with our statutory responsibilities.

The lack of co-production at early stages of this process and ongoing lack of clarity in communications has led to a general feeling that the changes have not been made for the benefit of our members’ families, but to cut costs.  
A full communication would be an opportunity to publicly state that this is not the case and explain the benefits of the changes that have been made.

Representatives from the parent carers forum and individual parent / carers have been involved in seven engagement events over the last three years. This engagement has been enhanced by a parent / carers quick quiz, direct calls to recipients of EHIPs and through feedback via commissioned services. The development of a good short break support offer is a priority and the engagement with parent / carers has provided effective influence and direction to the redesigned offer.   Representatives from the parent carers forum are currently involved in the task and finish group that has been set up to ensure that the transition from our current contract with CCIL to the short breaks team is as seamless as possible.

It is regrettable that there is a general feeling that changes are not being made for the benefit of carers and I can categorically state that all the work that has been completed over the past many months has been with an aim to improve services, not as a cost cutting exercise.  The local authority’s legal duties around short breaks are to ensure that parent carers receive a break from their caring responsibility; there is no duty upon the local authority to provide Early Help Individual Payments to families, the authority could have taken the decision as many local authorities have across the country to directly commission support and signpost families directly to it.  After consultation with the parent carers forum we decided to maintain Early Help Individual Payments for parents to give them greater choice concerning how they receive breaks from care.  If this was solely a cost cutting exercise we surely would have ceased providing EHIPs.

We intend to publish an EHIP’s fact sheet as part of our local offer ‘Livewell’ webpages over the coming days and will establish EHIP’s surgeries that will operate through day and early evenings across the authority. These surgeries will be an opportunity for any parent, currently receiving EHIP’s and new cases, to discuss any EHIP issue with a member of the short breaks team

Cat Linde the short breaks team manager is currently identifying dates and venues and we will then publish and promote these events.

Chair’s blog: Happy New Year!

The parent carer forum would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

We would like to share with you some of the things we have achieved in 2017 also some of our plans for 2018.

2017 has been a very busy year for the reps we have been working on and helping roll out the new toolkit which schools should be using now making a uniform approach in all schools when it comes to SEN. This makes it easier for schools, parents and the LA to work together.

Myself and Chris have been working with the new short breaks team, sharing your concerns and working with them on the transfer of managing EHIPS from CCIL back into the council. There is now a team of people who will be working with families on EHIPs instead of just one person. The team are currently looking for a pre-paid card provider for EHIPs so families are not paying out of their own pocket. We also wanted some feedback on your preference on how they do the EHIPs forms: would you want them sending out before your visit from the short breaks team or would you prefer them to bring it on the day of your visit?

Cat Linde – team manager for the short breaks team – says:

‘Another productive meeting with Mandy and Chris today, things are feeling much more positive! 

Working closely with Nick from CCIL has been great and will really help towards a smooth transition for EHIPs. 

Parents now have the CWD Short Break Team contact details [you can call them on 01625 378083] and some have been in touch, it’s fab to start making links. 

My team and I are looking forward to meeting lots more parents at our upcoming coffee morning’ 

I am currently on the team looking at the new free school planned for 2020 we are currently going to tender. I will keep you informed of the progress. I think it is great that the council want a parent view on this it also gives us the opportunity to have our say on our children’s future schooling.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the parent carer forum in 2017 and invite you all to get involved in 2018.

Mandy Dickson, 31 December 2017

Autumn 2017 Members’ Survey – the results!

Over October & November 2017, we ran a survey asking the members of Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum what issues are affecting their families most.

Thank you to everyone who responded – it is really useful for us to know what issues we should be looking at, and gives the parent representatives real examples so that they can better represent all the members.

We have now reviewed all the responses, and written a summary which you can read here:

Autumn 17 PCF survey results

The top five issues were:

  1. Accessing support for your child / young person’s mental health
  2. Schools
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Education Health and Care Plans
  5. Activities for your child / young person



School Transport: Statement from Cheshire East

Cheshire East Council has issued a statement in response to the problems experienced by many of our members at the beginning of the school year, and they have asked us to share it with you.

Tracey Beardmore-Evans (SEND Service Manager) says:

Cheshire East Council has taken the concerns raised about transport by parents/carers very seriously. 

A senior member of staff attends the Client Side Meetings monthly and the issues experienced by several parents/carers have been discussed and taken away for action by operational members of staff.

A representative from TSS has been invited to attend the January Parent Carer Forum to provide an update. A Transport Review has also recently been undertaken and, in order to improve collaborative working, Cheshire East Council and TSS are fully represented on each of the 3 work streams.  

Key areas of work currently underway are: –  clarity of roles across all areas to avoid parents/carers feeling like they are being passed around and ensuring that the EHCP review process incorporates changes in support requirements relating to transport

We will, of course, update you again following our meeting with the TSS representative. If you have any additional feedback you would like us to pass on, please email or call 07794431768

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2018 Macc pm

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2018 Crewe am Macc pm

We need as many parents/carers to come to the following consultation events to let the authorities know your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. This is being hosted by Ian Donegani – Head of Service

As part of a consultation exercise, the council are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire (up to 25)

Session 1: Tuesday 12th December 11am-2pm at Autism Inclusive (Crewe)
Session 2: Tuesday 12th December 5pm-8pm at SPACE4Autism (Macclesfield)

As part of a consultation exercise, we are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. One at Autism Inclusive and one at Space4Autism

Hosted by:
Ian Donegani – Head of Service (SEND & Inclusion
Cheryl Knupfer – Autism Behaviour Consultant

We need as many parents/carers and also youths to come along and have your say to let the team know of your experiences of Autism in Cheshire. I know we have been there before but again this is your chance to have a voice

Autism Consultation – we need your voices – 12th Dec 2017 Crewe am

Autism Consultation – we need your voices

We need as many parents/carers to come to the following consultation events to let the authorities know your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. This is being hosted by Ian Donegani – Head of Service

As part of a consultation exercise, the council are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire (up to 25)

Session 1: Tuesday 12th December 11am-2pm at Autism Inclusive (Crewe)
Session 2: Tuesday 12th December 5pm-8pm at SPACE4Autism (Macclesfield)

As part of a consultation exercise, we are running two consultation sessions to get your viewpoint regarding support/provision for young people with Autism in Cheshire. One at Autism Inclusive and one at Space4Autism

Hosted by:
Ian Donegani – Head of Service (SEND & Inclusion
Cheryl Knupfer – Autism Behaviour Consultant

We need as many parents/carers and also youths to come along and have your say to let the team know of your experiences of Autism in Cheshire. I know we have been there before but again this is your chance to have a voice

CEIAS workshop – next steps

Together with the team from Cheshire East Information, Advice and Support, the PCF invited parents to a coffee morning to find out about recent changes to the team, how those changes are affecting their service, and to share our feedback so that they can start planning for the future.

You can click here to read a summary of these discussions

Following on from these sessions, CEIAS are reviewing the information on their website (click here to view the CEIAS website)

CEIAS has asked if parent carers could please give them any ideas or feedback on the following pages:

Once these pages have been updated to reflect suggested changes, they will then look at the other pages and leaflets.

If you would like to take part, please send any feedback to by Friday 8 December

Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team

Cheshire East Council and the Cheshire East Parents Carers Forum wanted to write to you to provide information on some of the developments that have recently taken place within the local authority and to answer some of the questions that you may have concerning this.  With that in mind we would like to take the opportunity to apologise for any for any concern that uncertainty about the developments has caused parents and carers and hope this information will help.

We would like to introduce a new team within Cheshire East, the ‘Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Team’.  The team has been developed to improve services for children and young people with disabilities and their families who access short breaks and to ensure that parents and carers have a direct point of contact within the local authority for enquiries and support.

The Short Breaks Team will manage all direct payment packages and work closely with short break providers (commissioned services) who offer clubs, groups and activities as part of our ‘short break local offer’ across Cheshire East.

The team consists of a Team Manager, Cat Linde and four Family Support Workers, Rachel Barker, Lisa Eyres, Rafiah Zubair and Eric Hasleden.  We are going to provide more information about the individual experiences of the team members within the next Parent Carers Forum Newsletter, however we are really pleased that all of the members of the team have come from a background where they have worked with or have personal experiences of children with disabilities.

The team is based within Macclesfield Town Hall; however they will be working across the whole of Cheshire East.  We are really excited to be working with you all on the development of the new team.

Along with Short Break Direct Payments, from the 1st April the Short Breaks Team will also manage Early Help Individual Payments (EHIPS). Over the past 18 months, with the support of the Parent Carers Forum, Cheshire East consulted around whether parent carers wanted to continue with EHIPs, this consultation received a resounding yes and a decision was made to continue to deliver this as part of our ‘short breaks local offer’.

Between now and the 1st April the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) will continue to manage the EHIP’s process.  We are very happy to confirm that we have already provided CCIL with the total fund to ensure that there are no further delays to you receiving your payments and we really want to apologise to you if you have had payment problems over the past month.

How EHIPs were to be delivered was not part of the short breaks consultation and the decision to bring EHIPs into the remit of the Short Breaks Team was a local authority based decision as the contract with the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living was coming to an end.  We hope to reassure you that we believe that the new team will improve the service that you receive and I can also confirm that there are absolutely no savings attached to this change.  We are confident that the development of the new team demonstrates the ongoing commitment in Cheshire East to improve services for disabled children and their families.

It is our understanding that a letter was sent by CCIL asking for your consent to share your details with the local authority.  This was actioned as without parents giving CCIL consent to share their details with the local authority, it would mean that Cheshire East would not know who to make payments to once EHIP’s moves into the new Short Breaks Team.  We understand that the letter sent by CCIL was interpreted by some parents as having a threatening tone, in that if parents and carers did not give consent then their payments would stop.  Clearly this should not have been written as a threat, as all we want to achieve is a transfer of EHIP’s between CCIL and Cheshire East with as little impact on children, young people and their families as possible and we would like to apologise for tone of the letter.  We will make sure that we feed back to CCIL that regrettably some families have been distressed by the wording of the letter.

We can understand that some parents and carers feel that they have experienced changes to what they could spend their EHIP’s on.  We would like to explain that we regret that there has been confusion as some previous EHIP’s were paid out in error using the adult criteria, which is not a specific short break criterion.  We are confident that by bringing the EHIP’s management into the Short Breaks Team we will avoid future confusion.

The national statutory guidance requires local authorities to provide short breaks that give parent carers a break from their caring responsibilities.  If for example a parent uses their EHIP to pay for a holiday in which they accompany their child, this does not constitute a short break, as the parent is there caring for the child.  If however the parent uses the EHIP to pay for a carer to accompany them on the holiday, who will take responsibility in whole or in part for caring for the child or young person, then this does constitute a short break.  The same might apply to buying a Merlin card for a carer to take the child out so a parent can have a break. The Short Breaks Team will be able to give families advice on how best they can use their EHIP’s

In addition some parent carers have asked us to clarify whether or not they can stay at a short break event with their child.  This issue is about choice for parents and carers.  You should not be made to stay by our commissioned providers as by doing so you are not being given a break from you caring responsibilities.  If however you are given the choice to stay, for example to attend a parent coffee morning being run by the same provider and you decide for yourself that you would like to stay, that is fine.  Ultimately you must feel as parent carers that you have that ability to make a decision for yourself about whether you would like to stay and not. And not have the choice taken out of your hands

The statutory guidance that all local authorities have to work too is entitled ‘short breaks for carers of disabled children’ which we have included as a link below.  EHIPs constitutes part of Cheshire East’s short break ‘local offer’, this is the short breaks that are available to children, young people and their families without having to undergo an assessment of need, either through the National Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their Families or the Common Assessment Framework.

The Children Act 1989 (“the 1989 Act”) states that local authorities have a duty to provide, as part of the range of services they provide for families, breaks from caring for carers of disabled children to support them to continue to care for their children at home and to allow them to do so more effectively.  Recent case law and new legislation has also had an effect on the services that local authorities offer and how they deliver them.

Local authorities must do the following:

  • Ensure that parents are engaged in the design of local short breaks services;
  • not apply any eligibility criteria mechanistically without consideration of a particular family’s needs
  • give families the choice to access short breaks services using a direct payment
  • “state in their short breaks service statement the range of short breaks services available, the criteria by which eligibility for services will be assessed, and how the range of services is designed to meet the needs of families with disabled children in their area; “
  • Good practice is that a ”local offer” is considered in order to provide families with access to some short breaks services without any assessment.

If you are already receiving EHIPS, over the coming weeks and months you will be contacted by a member of the Short Breaks Team who will help identify all those things that EHIPs can be used for.  There will always be things that need to be agreed on a case by case basis, as our aim is to ensure that whatever is being purchased does provide the parent carer with a break from their caring responsibility.

Please email us at  , if you would like to be contacted sooner for advice on what you can spend your EHIPS on or are interested in applying.

The Short Breaks Team will also be able to help with finding alternative funding streams and charities, so if there is something we don’t agree you can spend your EHIPs on, we can help identify alternative ways to fund and access the support that you may require

All of the new short break providers (groups, clubs and activities) are part of Cheshire East’s short break local offer along with other organisations offering short break support.  The new Short Breaks Team is working on the development of a newsletter and written details of all the short breaks that can be accessed across the local area.  Attached to this letter is a timetable of all the short break providers that we have directly commissioned (Paid) to provide you and your children with support

We have also attached a link to our short break web pages for reference.   However, we fully understand that some families may require additional support in identifying the most appropriate short break for them and their child.  This is also a task that the new short breaks team will be very happy to help with.

Having looked at the questions that we developed through the quick quiz we can see that no explanation was given around the previous short break contracts coming to an end.  In hindsight it would have been beneficial for us to have done this as it might have reassured any parent carers who were concerned about the motivation for re-tendering the short breaks local offer contracts.

Cheshire East will therefore be reviewing how it carried out its short break re-commissioning so that it can learn lessons about communicating and working with parent and carers in the future.  There was a representative from the Parent Carers Forum involved in the tender evaluation and contract award process but Cheshire East want to look at whether this process can be improved.

We have already established regular meetings between the Joint Chairs of the Parent Carers Forum, the Service Manager of the Children with Disabilities Service and the Team Manager for the Short Breaks Team, to ensure that the short breaks service continues to be developed in co-production with parent carers.

To ensure that moving the management of EHIPS into the Short Breaks Team goes as smoothly as possible, we would like to set up a working group involving the Parent Carer Forum, Cheshire East and CCIL.

The Short Breaks Team is also going to liaise with the Parent Carer Forum to arrange a coffee morning where you will be able to meet Cat, Rachel, Lisa, Rafiah and Eric.  We would love to see as many people involved as possible so that we can all be involved in the development of this exciting new service.

CEIAS workshop – update from our Chair


On Friday the 10th November 2017, the PCF held a joint coffee morning CEIAS – Cheshire East Information Advice Support.

This event was to give parents a chance to work with CEIAS to help think, how they could use their resources most effectively to support and empower parents. As there have been changes in staffing at CEIAS we looked at issues such as whether all the things CEIAS do currently make a difference or not, are there better ways of doing things or things CEIAS don’t do now but should consider, and how parents can help and influence CEIAS’ development as a service.

The event was very helpful and parents said they found the openness about staffing changes and being asked for opinions on how the service should work really positive. Lots of actions and suggestions have been taken away and we will be feeding back progress to parent carers.

If you have any questions or have any information about the service please email

CAF Awareness Training – slides

On 1 November Laura Hindhaugh from Cheshire East Council delivered some training on CAF awareness for parents.

You can view the slides from the presentation here:

CAF powerpoint parent carer forum 1.11.17 (3)

We will be arranging a follow up session for parents who attended the session to discuss further and raise any questions or feedback. Please email if you would like to come, or have any questions or feedback that you would like us to take to the CAF team


Chairs’ blog – Working with the LA on Independent Travel Training

Mandy Dickson:
The parent forum have been very busy over the last few months working with Cheshire east trying to improve on departments within SEN.
I wanted to share some information with you about a new working group that I am part of looking at Independent travel training for our young people,
Our first meeting was last week and they will continue until it is felt ready to roll out.
I believe this to be a project that firstly is close to many parents’ hearts; I understand a parent’s apprehension around our children travelling independently and I will be mindful of representing these concerns in the works.
I also feel that this is an important part of introducing our children to becoming independent. Having the ability to use public transport both confidently and safely will help ready our children for such things as college, job interviews and socialising with friends.
I believe this service will give confidence to both parents and our children. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts, ideas and concerns on this workshop. and I will keep you updated.
If you think you’d like to find out more about being a parent representative & getting involved in work like this we’d love to hear from you! Call 07794431768 or email

CAF Awareness Training for Parents (Sandbach)

Wednesday 1 November, 10:00am to 2:00pm
Sandbach Cricket Club, CW11 3LZ

In response to requests from members of the Parent Carer Forum, Cheshire East Council are going to deliver some training on the CAF process.

The training will cover:

  • Where CAF came from
  • What Working Together  says re early help assessments
  • Information sharing rules
  • Thresholds /levels of need – where does CAF sit
  • Consent
  • Assessment /planning process
  • Child’s voice
  • Forms

The training is free of charge and members of the forum can claim any travel or childcare expenses. 

Places are limited – please follow this link to book your place on parents’ CAF Awareness Training

Our First Coffee Morning!

We are holding a coffee morning for parent carers in Cheshire East

  • Come along for a drink, cake and a chat with other parent carers
  • Lots of information from Everybody sport, Cheshire & Warrington Carers Trust and many more
  • CEIAS will be there to share their advice and expertise
  • Janet Threader & Sue Scarle from CEAT will also be joining us
  • Children welcome 
  • Max cards available for new members (and replacement Max Cards if yours has expired)

We also need to hear from you: the Parent Carer Forum wants to hear what are the issues that are affecting you and your family right now: transport? short breaks? ehcps? transition? something else…..?
Let us know and  we can make sure we’re representing you properly (& you could be in with a chance of winning a high street voucher!)