Special educational needs and disability (SEND) service providers are being invited to take part in a revolution in the way thousands of families buy services by listing what they offer on a new web portal which launches today, 22 September.
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. This is particularly important as new legislation 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 website for free during its pilot period from today until 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."
The portal allows disability service providers to share information. which in turn will help highlight gaps in provision, duplication of services and areas of unmet need. In this way, 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.
Service providers and local authorities can sign up to be part of SENDirect at www.sendirect.org.uk