National Policy and Guidance
The government sets out policy to guide and develop practice at a local and national level.
The Every Child Matters agenda introduced in 2004, seeks to improve outcomes for children and young people, to protect them from harm, and help them achieve what they want in life including, making a positive contribution, with all children and young people engaging in decision-making.
The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (NSF) 2004 sets standards for all services for all children and young people, including those who are disabled. The core standards require services to take into account children and young people and families views of services. It also recognises disabled children's additional support needs to ensure they can take part in participation activities. It requires that particular effort should be made to ensure that children and young people who are often excluded from participation activities are supported in giving their views.
The Department of Health (2006) is committed to giving service users more say in the services they receive as outlined in the Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: White Paper.
The NHS patient and public involvement duties require the involvement of disabled children and young people in discussions about their needs, care or treatment and in service planning.
Giving disabled young people a say in decisions about their lives from an early age is essential to prepare them for the new ‘personalisation’ agenda within health and adult social care.
The Aiming High for Disabled Children programme has introduced a range of measures to support families who have a disabled child. One of the key themes in the DCSF/Treasury Report Aiming high for disabled children: better support for families  is access and empowerment. It states that the engagement of disabled children and young people in shaping services at a local level results in the provision of more appropriate services.
From April 2011, local authorities will be under a duty to provide a short breaks service to carers of disabled children. The regulations build on the rapid expansion of short breaks services which all local authorities have achieved through the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme. The regulations require local authorities to
- offer breaks as a preventive early intervention
- offer a range of services for parents
- publish a statement of those services to parents.
The Government’s Green Paper Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability makes wide-ranging proposals to respond to the frustrations of children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them. The vision set out in the Green Paper is informed by the views and expertise of families, teachers, local authorities, health professionals and national and local organisations working with them.
Working Together sets out how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. Part 1 of the document is issued as statutory guidance.
SEN Code of Practice provides practical advice to Local Education Authorities, maintained schools, early education settings and others on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children’s special educational needs.
Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance, to which local authorities are under a statutory duty to have regard, is issued under duties placed on the Secretary of State by sections 508A and 508D of the Education Act 1996 (the Act). The guidance covers local authority duties and powers relating to school travel arrangements for children and young people.
Travel Training: Good practice Guidance has been developed in consultation with representatives from the Department for Work & Pensions, Department for Education and Department of Health. It reflects the important role travel training has to play in helping to deliver wider policy initiatives and agendas to ensure social inclusion and independence.
Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education Settings was originally commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families(DCSF). It does not replace or take priority over advice or codes of conduct produced by employers or national bodies, but is intended to both supplement and complement any such documents. It is important that all adults working with children understand that the nature of their work and the responsibilities related to it, place them in a position of trust. This practice guidance provides clear advice on appropriate and safe behaviours for all adults working with children in paid or unpaid capacities, in all settings and in all contexts.
On 16 February 2011 the Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years. The Welfare reform bill is still going through the Parliament but consultations and progress can be followed via the link. It introduces a wide range of reforms that will deliver the commitment made in the Coalition Agreement and the Queen’s Speech to make the benefits and tax credits systems fairer and simpler by:
- creating the right incentives to get more people into work by ensuring work always pays
- protecting the most vulnerable in our society
- delivering fairness to those claiming benefit and to the taxpayer
National standards for the provision of children’s advocacy services set out the core principles that children and young people can expect from professionals providing advocacy services. There are ten standards, including the role of children and young people in advocacy, the policy context, equal opportunities, confidentiality, publicity, accessibility, independence, complaints procedures and the management and governance of services.
The importance of communication for children with speech, language and communication needs was the focus of the Bercow Review.