The government is committed to ensuring that children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) get the support they need to lead safe, fulfilling lives and to reach their potential.
The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice makes clear that local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and relevant others are responsible for commissioning specialist support locally using their high needs funding budgets. This includes support for SLCN. We have given an additional £250 million to high needs funding across 2018-19 and 2019-20 to help them fulfil these duties, on top of the £6 billion already provided for the high needs budget. Local authorities are required to develop and publish their local SEND offer based on an analysis of local need and we expect details of services for SLCN, including how they can be accessed, to be included.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has set out his ambition to halve the 28% of children who finish their reception year without the early communication and reading skills they need to thrive by 2028. The Department for Education is working with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to support health visitors and early years practitioners to identify and support children’s early SLCN. We are investing £26 million to set up a network of English hubs, £20 million to provide professional development for early years practitioners, and £7.5 million to understand what works in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation. We are investing £6.5 million in voluntary and charity sector grants supporting the home learning environment.
Where children are at risk of harm, it is particularly important that they are supported to communicate their needs. The statutory guidance 'Working together to safeguard children' (2018) is clear that special provision should be put in place to support dialogue with children who have communication difficulties. This child-centred approach is supported by the Children Act (1989) and emphasised further in the interim findings of the children in need review.