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(UK) Hertfordshire: Council to pay out $7,900 for failing disabled child; hundreds on waitlist

Apr 19, 2023, Hertfordshire Mercury: Hertfordshire County Council order to pay £6,400 [$7,900] as child left without school place for nearly a year https://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/news/hertfordshire-news/hertfordshire-county-council-order-pay-8365553

"We would like to apologise to the family involved in this case. We are committed to working in partnership with young people, parents, carers and schools to ensure that all children with SEND and EHCPs in Hertfordshire receive the support they need and deserve"

Hertfordshire County Council has been directed to pay out £6,400 after a child with special educational needs was left without a school place for almost a year, it has been announced.

According to a report published by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, a place at a special education needs and disabilities (SEND) school was requested for the child in January 2022 – after the family returned to the UK from abroad.

The mother was told that in order to be considered for a place at a SEND school the child would need an ‘education health and care plan’ (EHCP). Initially, the application for an EHCP was dismissed by the county council after nine weeks – three weeks after the statutory time limit. Following the further submission of new evidence, the application was successful, stating that the child needed a specialist setting that caters for children with moderate learning difficulties.

But the Ombudsman found that it wasn’t completed quickly enough – falling eight weeks outside the 20-week deadline.

As a result, the Ombudsman directed the county council to apologise for the delays to the child’s mum and to pay her £400. But the Ombudsman also directed the council to pay out £6,000 in recognition of the loss of educational provision…. According to data reported to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel on Wednesday (March 29) hundreds of families in Hertfordshire are now waiting in excess of 20 weeks for an EHCP to be determined. Latest available data suggested there were around 887 applications were currently being determined by council officers.

And 237 of those applications had been lodged with the council for more than the 20-week time frame. Commenting on the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, a spokesperson for the county council apologised to the family and highlighted the “unprecedented increase in requests for specialist provision” being made.

“We take the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s findings very seriously and where they find we have been at fault, we work hard to understand why that has happened, how we can put it right and how we can prevent it happening again,” says a statement from the county council.

“We would like to apologise to the family involved in this case. We are committed to working in partnership with young people, parents, carers and schools to ensure that all children with SEND and EHCPs in Hertfordshire receive the support they need and deserve.

“The number of children being identified who may require SEND support continues to increase, raising challenges both nationally and here in Hertfordshire.

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