Information, advice and support services
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Every local authority area is legally required to provide an independent information, advice and support service. This service is to help children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. Support will also be provided to the child’s family.
Although these services are funded by the local authority, the advice they give must be independent. Government guidance is that such services should be free, impartial, confidential and accessible. They should be able to give advice face to face, over the phone and by email.
Guidance makes clear that services should work in partnership with parents. They should be able to work with older young people (aged 16 and over).
The sorts of issues an independent advice and support service include:
- The law on special educational needs and disability, health and social care.
- Local policy and practice.
- Personal budgets.
- Education, health and care plans and assessments.
- Help to resolve disputes. This will include advice on local complaints procedures, mediation and tribunals.
- Support in preparing for and attending meetings, including representation and advocacy.
- Signposting to other services, including links to parent support groups.
Some independence advice and support services are based within local authority offices. Others are hosted by local charities. The advice offered should always be impartial wherever a service is based.