The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced significant reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system which will better support children and young people with autism in the education system, and provide support to their parents and carers.
In particular, local authorities must do the following, in accordance with statutory requirements: local authorities must consider the views, wishes, or feelings of the child, young person, and the child’s parents. Local authorities must have a view to the importance of the child or young person, and the child’s parents, participating as fully as possible in decisions, and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions. Local authorities must consider the need to support the child or young person, and the parents, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help them achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes, preparing them effectively for adulthood. Local authorities must assess the needs of parent carers of children with disabilities, if they judge support is needed or if a parent carer asks for their needs to be assessed. And local authorities must publish a Local Offer of SEND services by local authorities, which will help parents to identify what support is available.
The Department has contracted with the Autism Education Trust this year to deliver autism training to education professionals. The Trust has now trained approaching 80,000 education staff since 2012. The Department is also providing grant funding for two additional projects this year: one by the National Autistic Society to provide information and advice to parents and professionals on exclusions, and one by Ambitious about Autism on strategies for supporting transition from school to college.
The Care Act 2014 requires local authorities to assess the support needs of carers.
Clinical Commissioning Groups are commissioning services to support the health needs of children and young people with autism. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines CG170 Autism in under 19s: support and management provides advice on the care and management of children and young people with autism for health services (http://www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/CG170). The NICE guidance in particular highlights the need for short breaks and other respite care for families. All local authorities are required to provide a range of short break services for disabled children and young people, and to publish a short breaks statement explaining what is available locally and how it can be accessed. Between 2011-12 and 2014-15, £800 million has been made available to local authorities for short breaks.