Local Pathways for Children

Family carer Olive Fallows listening to EIP Project Manager Jacqui Shurlock

In order for the Transforming Care Programme to succeed, local areas will need to develop effective pathways for children with learning disabilities who display behaviours that challenge. These local pathways will need to be child and family centred (rather than driven by the provision currently available), lifelong and linked to adult pathways, and they will need to be developed in partnership with families.

There are many things that should feature in an effective pathway for children, but here are five of the most crucial:

1.  Family information, support and training on challenging behaviour – this would include families being given peer support and sibling support, social care assessment and support (including short breaks), and the offer of direct payments/a personal budget.

2.  Behavioural support and skills development in education

3.  Positive Behavioural Support (PBS) – this would begin with a referral to a PBS early intervention team to assess whether a PBS service is required, followed by a functional assessment of behaviour, and a behaviour support plan.

4.  Coordinated and proactive healthcare – this could include a whole range of things throughout the child’s life, such as: support for additional needs when very young (e.g. sleeping, feeding, toileting); continued monitoring and support including annual GP health checks from age 14; assessment for continuing healthcare funding and offer of personal health budget if eligible; and input from relevant health professional to an Educational Health and Care Plan.

5.  Support for mental health and wellbeing – risk factors and early signs of mental health problems in the child or his/her main caregivers should be identified and acted upon.

A strategic approach that a Local Authority could adopt when developing a local pathway might include:

  • Assessing current service provision in partnership with families, identifying gaps and strengths
  • Looking at Care and Treatment Reviews of children from the local area to identify any common barriers to effective local support
  • Reducing spending on out-of-area placements and crisis interventions, whilst increasing spending on effective, evidence-based local support
  • Using the least restrictive methods possible and planning for a reduction in restrictive interventions within all services

Over the coming years, it will be crucial that families and campaigners hold the Transforming Care Partnerships to account, and make sure that these pathways form an important part of the ‘local offer’ for children with learning disabilities.

Jacqui Shurlock, CBF Lead for Children and Young People

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