East Sussex Parent Carer Forum (ESPCF) is the parent carer voice organisation for families with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in East Sussex.
Our role is to bring the voices of parent carers to the table when decisions are being made about local services our families use. We are parent carer run, and work alongside organisations such as the NHS and East Sussex County Council to try and influence positive change and put families at the heart of decision-making.
Welcome to our June 2023 update. First up is our recent meeting with the Children’s Disability Service, which we arranged following queries in our short breaks parent carer sessions about the threshold for specialist services and whether there are plans to improve and expand provision. Click here to read full update.
Karen and Serene, ESPCF engagement workers, have continued their travels around the county hearing from parent carers about their experiences of having children or young people on the ‘neurodevelopmental pathway’ and asking what information, advice and support would be helpful.
New places they have visited include Willingdon Trees Community Centre (pictured) and Parkland School in Eastbourne and the food bank at Newhaven Baptist Church.
We’re hopeful to be visiting locations in the northeast of the county, too, with some provisional appointments made which we’ll share as soon as possible.
We have resumed our virtual drop-in sessions for parent carers in East Sussex – something we started during lockdown as a way of sharing the load and checking in with each other. These sessions are friendly and informal – children and pets in the background, or foreground, are not unusual! Keep an eye on your emails (if you’re a member) or on our social media pages for upcoming dates.
Just before Easter we held two sessions with CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, where parent carers shared their experiences and ideas for service improvement. You can read the full summary here.
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback for our recent meetings on school transitions, wheelchair services, and moving from children’s to adult social care services. All ESPCF members will have received an update on these meetings in one of our regular email updates, but you can also find information on our social media pages.
You might have spotted our temperature check results which we published recently. This is a poll we do every term to check in with parent carers on how things are going. You can read about the latest results here.
We’re continuing to prepare for the anticipated Ofsted & CQC (Care Quality Commission) area SEND inspection of East Sussex County Council, which we believe will happen soon (although we don’t know when; it could be in a week or two, it could be in a few months). We expect to be asked by the inspectors to identify common themes from parent carer experiences that will help to contribute to key lines of enquiry for the inspection. To help with this, we are busy collating and reviewing all the evidence we have received from parent carers across different workstreams, surveys, focus groups, emails, and comments on social media etc.
Click here to read our news story to find out more about what happens during an inspection and how SEND families can make sure their voices are heard. Also, make sure you have signed up to be an ESPCF member. The forum should be notified on the first day of the inspection, and we will be in touch with members straightaway to share important information, including the parent carer survey.
And we’re delighted to welcome a new member of the ESPCF team – Stef Fallows. Stef has a 9-year-old son who has Down Syndrome and associated learning needs and who “is currently in a mainstream school and enjoying life to the full”. Stef is also known to millions (10 million and counting…) through her involvement in the viral video “50 Mums, 50 Kids, 1 Extra Chromosome” – a carpool karaoke in support of World Down Syndrome Day in 2018:
Click here to check it out (this opens YouTube – Stef is mum number 4 in the video)
Stef’s role is to support both ESPCF and Brighton Pacc with back-office functions and to coordinate data storage, along with a bit of everything else in between (as is the way with our team!). Welcome to the team, Stef!
We hope to publish our summer newsletter before the end of term, but in the meantime keep an eye on our news and resources page for all the latest updates.