What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?
Some children and young people aged from birth to 25 with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) may need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
EHCP are are legal documents outlining the support a child or young person will receive to meet their special needs across education, health and social care and achieve positive outcomes. The focus is very much on what is important for children and young people – what they and you want to achieve now and in the future.
To understand whether an EHCP would be helpful for a particular child or young person, the local authority will carry out an assessment (also known as EHC needs assessment or EHCNA).
The Children and Families Act puts children and young people at the centre of the assessment and planning process so that outcomes are co-produced with parents/carers and/or with young people themselves; 16 to 25 year olds should be especially involved with this.
For an introduction to the Education, Health and Care Plan and how it may help your family, have a look at this video from the Council for Disabled Children
The Bi-Borough SEND Service covers children and young people (CYP) resident in Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. This leaflet outlines what we do and how we are structured.
If this assessment shows that an EHCP is not required, this will be because the local authority believes a child or young person's needs can be met with support that already exists within mainstream settings.
What is the process for getting a plan?
To get an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for your child you will need to request an assessment from the local authority’s SEN Service. Requests can be made by a school, parent or the young person themselves (if they are aged 16-25 years). You can download request forms for an EHCP assessment by clicking here.
Once a request form has been received by the local authority, they will have six weeks to decide whether they will conduct an assessment. To help the local authority make this decision, a multi-disciplinary SEN Panel will be called to review the evidence you have submitted and consult any professionals as may be necessary. This is to establish whether:
- the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and
- it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHCP.
The local authority will use the conclusions of the SEN Panel as advice when making their own decision about whether to proceed with an assessment.
If a decision to conduct an assessment is made, the SEN Service will contact you to allocate a named key worker who will work with you to find out more about your child and their needs. The assessment will also involve input from other professionals working with your child.
The EHCP assessment process takes 20 weeks to complete, however, you will find out if the local authority decides not to proceed with a plan by the sixteenth week of assessment. If the local authority has decided not to issue an EHCP, you will be invited to a meeting where a range of alternative support will be considered.
Where the local authority agrees to issue an EHCP, they will let you know the next steps for drafting and finalising the plan. This should be completed by the end of the 20-week assessment period. You and your child should be fully involved throughout this process.
Who can support me to get an EHCP that is right for my child?
At the point that, following an application for an Education, Health and Care Plan, the local authority decides to conduct an assessment, you will be assigned a key worker. It is the role of the key worker to help you ensure that the individual needs of your child are reflected through the EHCP application process.
You may also seek independent support. The Independent Advice and Support Service is able to offer information and advice based on the law and may be able to offer you individual advocacy and case work. The local parent carers group may also be able to help you with advice based on their experiences.
There are also a number of charities that have independent advice lines and may be able to offer you individual case-work dependent on your circumstances. Some charities offering these services are listed in our Social Care and Family Support Section of the Local Offer. You should be able to find most others through a search engine or through signposting from your local parent carer group.
Information contained in an EHCP
The information contained in an Education, Health and Care Plan covers a child or young person's education, health and care needs, their desired outcomes, and the range of multi-disciplinary support that will be provided to help them achieve their outcomes and aspirations. This information is split into different sections.
Section A: All about me. This is the section where the child / young person and/or their parents can write about themselves. What are their interests, hopes and dreams? What is their story so far? What makes a good day and what makes a bad day for them?
Section B: My education needs. This section gives details of the child / young person's special educational needs (e.g. communication, cognition and learning).
Section C: My health needs. This section gives details of the child / young person's health needs which relate to their special educational needs or to a disability.
Section D: My social care needs. This section gives details of the child / young person's social care needs which relate to their special educational needs or to a disability.
Section E: My outcomes. This section contains information about the outcomes for the child or young person that have been agreed and the steps needed to achieve them.
Section F: The special educational provision required for me to achieve my outcomes. This explains what is needed, what is going to happen, who is going to do it, what skills, qualifications or training they require, how often it will be made available and when it will be reviewed.
Section G: Health Provision. This section sets out any health provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs.
Section H1: Social Care Provision. This section sets out any social care provision which must be made for a child or young person under 18 resulting from Section 2 of the chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA).
Section H2: Social Care Provision. Any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs.
Section I: Education Placement. This is where the young person or their parents/carers may express a choice about the nursery / school / college they would like the young person to attend.
Section J: Personal Budget. If a young person or their parents/carers request a personal budget, details of this will be specified here.
Section K: This section lists all of the reports and assessments that have been used to write the EHCP.
What happens if I don’t agree with my child’s EHCP?
The first Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you receive from the Local Authority is a “draft plan”. If you are unhappy with what the draft plan says, you have 15 days from receiving it to write to the Local Authority outlining your concerns and which changes you would like to be made. These are called your “representations”. You may also request a meeting with a Local Authority Officer to discuss the plan which the Local Authority is legally required to arrange.
If, after making representations to the Local Authority, you feel your concerns have still not been reflected in the final EHCP, you may consider mediation, or an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. Mediation is a less-formal procedure for having your concerns addressed where an independent mediator will meet with you and the Local Authority to try and help reach an agreement. For more information on the mediation process, please click here.
If you do not wish to go through the mediation process, or you have been through it and it has not resulted in the outcome you wanted, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. This must be done within either two months from receipt of your child’s final EHCP or one month following issue of a medication certificate (whichever is the later date). The Tribunal has the power to enforce amendments to the EHCP. For more information on the process, please click here.
EHCP are 'Person Centred'
The EHC plan puts children, young people and families at the centre of the assessment and planning process. This is called "person-centred planning". Sixteen to 25 year olds should be especially involved in the planning.
The video below from the Council for Disabled Children explains what we mean by putting the young person and their family at the centre of the plan:
The EHCP means 'Joined-Up Care'
The Local Authority is responsible for making sure services across the three areas (Education, Health and Social Care) are brought together and that the plan is co-ordinated between those services and the family.
Joint assessments will help parents and young people to ‘tell their story’ only once and will focus on the outcomes that children and young people can achieve as well as identifying the support needed to do this.