So despite the fact last week almost killed me with stress and fatigue, a couple of good things happened.
Firstly, I was kept up to date with meetings and progress by my new contact within the SEN team and was given a start date at Jude’s new school. It isn’t until Easter which is perfectly fine, I don’t mind when we move, I just wanted to know so I could prepare myself and Jude accordingly. As it happens, I won’t mention anything to Jude until he’s nearly transferring as he has no concept of time and it’ll only stress him out. But yes, I was really impressed with how quickly I was contacted and given updates.
Secondly, Emmeline and Jude had hours of fun playing with a cardboard box meaning inset day on Friday wasn’t too painful:
But more importantly…and proving to be pivotal in all the communications I have subsequently received…
At the end of the week, I received a letter response from the Director of Children’s Services at Herts County Council (following this letter I wrote). I won’t post the actual print on here but I thought I’d bullet point each paragraph. It’s not particularly long so won’t take long, I’d love to hear your thoughts to see if they run clean with mine.
Dear Ms Soule,
Thank you for your letter…
- Apology for the service we have received and that it fell below their expected standards. She understands the difficulty parents face when navigating the system and the Local Authority are working to ensure the “journey” (her word) is simple so the issues I raised can be addressed.
- She understands I have been in contact with the SEN team and am liaising with someone there now regarding Jude’s transfer date.
- Jude is not due to transfer until September 2017 however she is aware an early start date was suggested a while ago. Following an initial consultation, there have been a few queries from the school which have delayed things and as such information wasn’t communicated to the SEN team “in a timely manner.” This resulted in delays in communications with us. She understands that my contact within the SEN team is arranging meetings with the school so we can take things forward.
- Social care provision – She understands that Jude receives the Short Break Local Offer (ridiculous title – it’s his time at Jubilee House!) She notes that I recently contacted the team because this isn’t meeting Jude’s needs adequately so she has requested the Team Manager contacts me to discuss things (Basically Jubilee House keep cancelling on us so I’m requesting funds for a Support Worker for a few fortnightly hours instead.)
- Physio and Occupational Therapy comments – she has requested permission to forward my letter to the relevant individual within the Health Service.
- Final apology.
Director of Children’s Services.
My initial reaction MAY be somewhat sceptical, it could also be deemed unnecessarily harsh however over the years I have built an emotionally triggered wall of suspicion that automatically surrounds me whenever I encounter a council employed professional. I won’t lie, I began by thinking that this letter was just a huge cop out. A standard, bureaucratic and dispassionate list of annotations sent out to every disgruntled parent within the district full of “I understand that blah blah blah”, suggestions of changing practices highlighted with randomly positioned apologies.
I felt this lady had dictated (and had someone else type up) her rather short and legally pleasing letter and just got on with her life. This is probably true however, I have to remember that my aim of sending this letter wasn’t to gain either friends or acknowledgement nor was it to receive a letter in response pleading for forgiveness and promising whatever we desired. The purpose of the letter was to highlight to everyone involved their MASSIVE faults and with this, it seems to have succeeded. My letter is being distributed between at least a few departments of the council so I’m hoping it will encourage a handful of individuals to have a strong look at their working mentality.
As well as this minute success, since receiving the letter I have had a phone call from someone new in the SEN team (I lose track of everyone I speak to!) and they are going to submit a referral for Occupational Therapy. OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY!!!! And as mentioned in the first paragraph, I also had a call on Friday from my main SEN team contact (the manager) giving me feedback from her meeting with the new school plus a start date followed with a “does this work with you time wise?” question. Wow. It’s amazing what you get when you kick up a huge fuss and dedicate several months of your life pursuing the services your son legitimately needs in order to cope in the world. Granted, we haven’t yet received any of these services however I’m pretty sure they’re forthcoming. It may take a lot more work but we’re getting there…
My aim for the next month is to guarantee the Occupational Therapy. As well as this, I want to ensure our ninety five hours with Jubilee House are transferred into monetary Direct Payments so we can employ a Support Worker. This will allow a lot more consistency and we won’t have to worry about Jubilee House cancelling on us again.
I’m pleased with how things are moving forward at last…pleased but drained.
What do you think of the letter I received? I’m optimistic that she keeps her word and sticks a rocket up everyone within the SEN team.
Saying all of this, I don’t believe the fault lies with any one individual. It’s an entire, under-funded, over-demanded and inadequately supported area of society. Social care departments and SEN teams are largely dependent on funding stipulated by the government which is something I will be investigating this week. Should be eye opening…