[Skip to content]

Who to contact for advice and guidance

Who to contact for advice and guidance

Local Offer logo

If you have concerns about your child's progress and development, the support they are getting or need help as a parent or carer their are a number of local and national organisations who offer advice and support. 

See the information below as well as searching our Local Offer directory.   

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) is a statutory service which is run at ‘arm’s length’ from the Special Educational Needs decision makers and provides free, confidential, impartial advice, guidance and support to:

  • Parents of children and young people up to the age of 25 with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Young people up to the age of 25 with special educational needs and disabilities
  • Parents with initial concerns about their child through to those with an Education, Health and Care Plan.  

Contact details

For further information go to the SENDIASS directory listing.

Watch the SENDIASS video on how the service help and support young people 

The Wokingham Borough Council provides a number of support services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families. For further information on each service go to their directory listing:   

 

Short Breaks and respite

Short Breaks provide children and young people with disabilities opportunities to spend time away from their parents and carers, relaxing and having fun with their friends.    

They also provide families with a break from their caring responsibilities and give parent and carers a chance to unwind, spend time with their other children or take part in leisure or training activities.

Go to our short breaks and respite web page to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for an assessment.

Optalis Supported Employment Service

The Optalis Supported Employment Service provides a friendly and confidential employment support service for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and those transitioning from education into employment.   

For further information go to the Optalis website.

NHS Health Services

The Berkshire NHS Healthcare Foundation Trust (BHFT) has a number of services that help and support a child or young person with SEND and their families. Visit the Berkshire NHS Healthcare Children, Young People and Families Services website to find out what these are.

For information and advice related to children and young people’s development go to the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust children, young people and families services website

For support with a child's or young person's mental health visit the BHFT - Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) web page.

ASSIST Team (Autistic Spectrum Service for Information Support and Training)

The council's ASSIST Team run a number of workshops for parents, carers and practitioners which provides an opportunity to gain an understanding of how a person with autism makes sense of the world around them and develop strategies and tools that may help and support.

Workshop dates for the year are published in the spring and autumn term.

For dates of the latest workshops search our Local Offer what's on guide.

Local organisations and charities

There are a number of local organisations and charities who run training courses and workshops for parents and carers. Visit the organisations websites for course details and to book a place: 

    

Parent Carer Forum

SEND Voices Wokingham is an independent group of parent carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). SEND Voices Wokingham are part of the national network of parent carer forum (NNPCF). They represent the views of parents and carers in the local area.

Visit the SEND Voices Wokingham website for further information about what they do and how you can join.

Contact details:    

The council's support service for parents and carers

The CAN (children with additional needs) network is the councils information and support service for parents of children up to the age of 25 who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The service offers:   

  • Regular newsletters which gives information about what's happening locally, training workshops, leisure activities and consultations.    
  • Signposting to other services  
  • Access to the CAN network co-ordinator for information and support
 

Children and young people with a diagnosed condition will also be able to get a Children with Additional Needs Network card. The card gives concessions at lots of attractions in and around Berkshire.    

To receive monthly newsletters and/or apply for a CAN card you will need to download the CAN network application form from the children with additional needs network web page.

Contact details    

 

Local support for parents and carers

There are a number of local organisations and charities who provide support and help for parents and carers. Visit the organisations websites for information on the service they offer and their contact details: 

 

 Additional local and national advice and support services can be found by searching the Local Offer directory.   

Support for adoptive parents, kinship carers and foster carers

The parenting special children organisation provides specialist support to parents and carers through: 

  • Workshops and courses
  • Support groups for parents and carers
  • Sleep service
  • Diagnosis support and help
  • Family events

Go to the parenting special children website for more information.      

There are some local organisations and charities who provide support and help for young people and young adults.

Support and training around employment and life skills

The following support and training is available:

Optalis Supported Employment Service

The Optalis Supported Employment Service provides a friendly and confidential employment support service and travel training for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and those transitioning from education into employment.

For further information go to the Optalis website.

ASD Family Help

ASD Family help offer the following help to autistic young people:    

  • Employability training (age 18 and above)
  • Life and relationships skills
              

Wokingham Elevate Hub

Wokingham Elevate Hub give help, advice and support on employment, training, education, work experience and volunteering.     

 For further information go to the Elevate Me website.

 Additional local and national support services can be found by searching the Local Offer directory 

Support Groups 

Visit the organisations websites for information on their support groups they run for young people:    

Further support groups can be found by searching the Local Offer directory

Leisure activities

 Visit the organisations websites for information on the activities they run:   

Further leisure activities can be found by searching the Local Offer directory and what's on guide.    

What do we mean by a crisis?

A crisis is when your child is no longer safe to themselves or others or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention. It is usually a time when a situation is demanding all of your time in order to care for your child because they:   

  • Can’t calm down    
  • Are uncontrollable   
  • May be in sudden danger of hurting themselves or others            
                   

What can I do? 

If your child is in immediate danger to themselves or others call the emergency services on 999.    

Contact the children and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS)

If your child is having suicidal thoughts or extreme mental health difficulties the mental health support service to children and young people and their families/carers can be contacted between the hours of 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

Outside of these hours the adult crisis teams can be contacted for advice and guidance. 

Go to hospital

Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A and E) department. Some A and E departments have a liaison psychiatry team. To find a A and E department near you go to the NHS website.

Social care 

Social care emergencies out of hours service - Monday to Friday 5pm to 9am, weekend days, public holidays 


 During the day call the Disabled Children's Team. 

Support services

Services that offer support to families or the person having a mental health crisis:    

  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger -  offers free 24/7 text support to the person having a mental health crisis. If you need urgent help text YM to 85258.
  • Childline provide support via telephone, email and online. Visit the Childline website for further information or to speak to a counsellor call free on 0800 1111.
  • The Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116 123 
  • The Mix Crisis Messenger service - text service provides free, 24/7 crisis support for people aged 25 and under. Text THEMIX to 85258
  • Papyrus offers support to people struggling with suicidal thoughts or who is concerned about a person. For further information go to the Papyrus HOPELINEUK website

Develop a crisis plan that you can refer to quickly if a situation happens where your child is no longer safe to themselves or others or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention. If you have other children think about who you could contact to care for them whilst you are with your child in crisis.

The Children and Families Act 2014

The  Children and Families Act (2014) introduced changes to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system: 

  • A new Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to replace the statement of special educational needs
  • School action and school action plus to be replaced by a new school based category, 'SEN support'
  • A new SEN Code of Practice
  • Personal budgets for those with an education, health and care plan
  • Mediation for parents going to Tribunal
  • Individual Action Plans will no longer be used
   

  What does this mean for young people and their families?

  • Putting the child or young person and their family at the centre of the process
  • Children’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) are picked up early and support is put in place quickly
  • Greater control for parents and young people over the services they use
  • Parents know what they can expect their pre-school, school, college, local authority, health services and local services to provide
  • Practitioners have the knowledge, understanding and skills to provide support for children and young people who have SEN, or are disabled
  • Children and young people are encouraged to have raised hopes about what they can achieve in learning and for life
  • For more complex needs, practitioners will work together with families. This can lead to a single Education, Health and Care Plan that can be in place from birth to 25

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 introduced reforms to put people and their carers in control of their care and support. The Act ensures: 

  • New rights to carers
  • A national eligibility criteria framework and assessments for care and support services
  • Prevention services
  • Better planning of transition between children's and adult's services
  • Easier to move between areas (continuation of services)
  • Universal deferred payments
  • Universal information and advice (including signposting to independent financial advice)
  • Safer services (statutory Safeguarding Board)
  • Market development and failure - What support and care services people need and how they need them provided
  • Partnership working
     

Under the Act, anyone who might need care and support is entitled to a needs assessment, which the council must carryout. Carers who also appear to have needs are entitled to a carer's assessment

The websites below provide further information on the Care Act and how it ensures the well being of people in need of care and support services: 

Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects vulnerable people over the age of 16 around decision making. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice states the 5 statutory principles are: 

  1. A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that they lack capacity. 
  2. A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps to help him to do so have been taken without success.
  3. A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because he makes an unwise decision.
  4. A decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made, in his best interests.
  5. Before a decision is made, regard must be had to whether the purpose for which it is needed can be as effectively achieved in a way that is less restrictive of the person’s rights and freedom of action.
 

The websites below provide further guidance and information on the Mental Capacity Act: 

On the 16 May 2019 the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act was approved as an Act of Parliament (law). The Act introduces the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), which is a new model to safeguard and protect individuals.

For further information on how the Act and LPS will affect disabled children, young people and their families visit the Council for Disabled Children website. An easy read guide on the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill can also be view.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 states that education providers are not allowed to discriminate against disabled children or students by treating them less favourably without justification.

They must make reasonable adjustments so that disabled pupils are not put at a substantial disadvantage.

Schools are required to produce accessibility plans and provide information in their annual reports regarding arrangements for disabled pupils.

Visit the UK Governments legislation website to find out more.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people form discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

Read the UK Government easy read guide on The Equality Act (PDF document).

Autism Act 2009

The Autism Act 2009 did two key things: 

  • Put a duty on the Government to produce and regularly review an autism strategy to meet the needs of autistic adults in England. 
  • Put a duty on the Government to produce statutory guidance for local authorities to implement the strategy locally.      

 

Useful websites and resources which give information about the rights of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families:        

  • Mencap have created a factsheet that sets out what rights young people and parents have under the Special Educational Needs system. Visit the Mencap website to download the factsheet
  • Read the Council for Disabled Children legal handbook on the legal rights of disabled children and their families
  • The Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) offers legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. Visit the IPSEA website for useful factsheets, model letters and information on their advice and tribunal helplines
  •  The Autism Education Trust (AET) website provides information and advice for parents and carers on supporting their child to reach their full potential in the education system including advice on exclusion

Find out what apps are available to support learning for children and young people with special educational needs including autism, ADHD, apraxia, learning disability, sensory issues by visiting the apps and assistive technology web page.

Was this page useful?
Back to top