Calling all special education needs and disability service providers

SENdirectDon’t miss FREE opportunity to help overhaul the way services are supplied and bought by families

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) service providers are invited to take part in a revolution in the way thousands of families buy services by listing what they offer for free on a new webportal, SENDirect.org.uk, which launched this week.

Backed by the government and developed by the SEND consortium of disability charities, SENDirect.og.uk, aims to help families find, receive and request the services they need – particularly important as new legislation now gives families the option of using personal budgets to arrange their own support packages as an alternative to what is offered through local commissioning frameworks.

Service providers will be able to list what they offer families on the SENDirect.org.uk at no cost during the web-portal’s pilot period from today until 1st April 2015. They will also benefit from free access to support and marketing to get ready for the changes in the law, along with help understanding personalisation and personal budgets and delivering services directly to families.

Elizabeth Archer, Project Director for SENDirect, says: “The way services are commissioned is about to change beyond recognition. Through SENDirect we are offering providers the opportunity to have a significant impact on families’ lives by supporting them to request, find and receive services that meet their needs.

“If you provide services for families with children who have special educational needs or disabilities, join us in helping families get what they need, when they need it by being amongst the first to take advantage of free listings during Sendirect.org.uk’s piloting stage.”

SENDirect has already been endorsed by a number of local authorities. It allows providers to raise their profile to reach more customers and provides good opportunities to market directly to families and professionals. By sharing information between families, providers and commissioning authorities about gaps in provision, duplication of services and areas of unmet need, SENDirect can help influence the development of new and different services that better meet needs.

From January, SENDirect will enable parents, professionals and young people across England to search for and compare services from all providers on the site, allowing them to get in touch and buy from the provider directly, whether using direct payments, personal budgets or their own personal funds. This will put families firmly in control of making their own decisions about the services they need.

Leslie Hagger, Director of Children & Family Services at Leicestershire County Council, one of the 10 pilot Local Authorities, says: “SENDirect will benefit families in lots of ways, supporting our Local Offer by bringing all relevant information together in one place. The services additional ability to help identify gaps in the local offer using data from the way people use the site, their searches, enquiries, reviews and feedback will allow us to regularly update our offer to better meet needs. It will also give us the information we need to stimulate providers to offer additional/new services to fill identified gaps. We believe this will have a real positive impact upon families with children with additional needs in our area.”

Service providers and local authorities can sign up to be part of SENDirect at www.sendirect.org.uk

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