The Voice of Young People and Families

4 September 2012

We were invited by the Cornwall Pathfinder Programme to support them with some consultations with young people and families.

The Pathfinder Programmes have been selected to address ‘Preparing for Adulthood’s’ top ten messages and implement and test the proposals in the SEN and Disability Green Paper ‘Support and Aspiration’. The SEN and Disability Green Paper sets out ambitious proposals to reform the system of support for young people with SEN and disability and their families so that all young people achieve better life outcomes.

The Pathfinder Programmes in Cornwall have several key aims, which centre on helping to design a better, more transparent and less adversarial system in which all agencies are fully engaged in the assessment and development of the child or young person’s single plan and are committed to delivering it, including through the use of personal budgets.

The programme is continuing to develop approaches built on what is already working and can be applied to different local arrangements and to test the extent to which arrangements work for all disabled children and young people as well as those with SEN, who require statutory support, across a wide range of circumstances.

It is through these aims that the programme works to: give parents and carers greater choice and more control, explore how the changes can help to address inequalities in the access to and provision of services and to discover how the reforms will impact on children and young people from birth to 25, particularly at key transition points.

Pathfinder Programmes are developing three core projects:

  • Project 1: Raising the profile of Early Support, particularly in identified areas where Early Support is underdeveloped
  • Project 2: Devising a single assessment process combined with building a model relating to Personal Budgets
  • Project 3: Targeting Y9 transition planning to span the 14 to 25 age range linked to the construction of an Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • We have supported two consultations and will be consulting with further young people and families once schools have started back. We used person centred methods, collage, drawing, song writing, video diaries, tape recording and supported young people to consider various themes of what they see as a good life.

    The first consultation with families highlighted many issues that would need to be considered when developing all three of the above strands. They highlighted a need for joint up working and better support for families and young people. They are particularly keen to see better education that leads to real employment and the development of personal budgets that will assist their son or daughter to be independent and have a good life.

    Finding out what families want from life seems to be a recurring question. This is part of the consultation with families and young people and they are very clear as to what they want.

    People with learning disabilities told us that they want to work, to own nice things, to have friends and relationships and to get married in the future.

    Families reinforce this sentiment but also wanting to make sure they get the support they need to make this a reality. They need to make sure that any support that their children are entitled to is secured as this is the only thing that will make them feel they have achieved their role as parents. They see personal budgets as a way for their children getting the right support, to be independent and get a good life filled with opportunities, choices and control.

    We hope that these workshops help to influence those responsible for making these changes to the support systems and enable people with learning disabilities to access the support they need in a clear and accessible way to ensure they have the life opportunities they want.