A Guide to Independent Support


As part of the new SEND system, an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is a document that replaces Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments (LDAs) for children and young people with special education needs.

An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of EHC needs assessment. At the end of that process, the Local Authority has to make a decision either to issue an EHC Plan or not.

Independent Support Providers

Editor’s Note: For reasons of clarity ‘Contact a Family Ealing and Southall’ are referred to as ‘Contact a Family’ and ‘Family Action Ealing I SAID!’ will be referred to as ‘I SAID!’.

In the London Borough of Ealing, Contact a Family and I SAID! are funded by the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) to provide Independent Support around Education, Health and Care plans.

‘Independent Support’ just means any support around the new EHC plans or conversions from statements or Learning Difficulty Assessments to EHC plans. The two services have agreed to work jointly (along with other partner organisations like Ealing Parent Carer Forum) to ensure that Independent Support complements our existing work and helps families in most need of support.

I SAID! caseworkers have received Independent Support training so that they can fulfil an Independent Support role in addition to the wider support they provide around SEN and education, health and social care. A Volunteer Co‐ordinator leads a team of volunteers to support the I SAID! team to provide Independent Support to a wide range of families. The service has so far provided Independent Support to nearly 40 families at various stages of the EHC process (ranging from initial queries to paperwork and meetings) as well as providing workshops and drop-ins at John Chilton and Westside Young People’s Centre for young people aged 16-25.

Contact a Family has employed an Independent Supporter as a full‐time member of staff from 1st September 2014. The Independent Supporter is based at their Southall office (St. Georges Community Centre, 8‐12 Lancaster Road, Southall, UB1 1NW). Contact a Family’s Independent Supporter has provided one-to-one support to 83 unique families, have organised 2 SEND information workshops and 1 focus group consisting of 6 parents to discuss Local Offer and has been responding to enquiries on an ongoing basis.

Referral Protocols between providers in Ealing

Parents, carers and young people can self ‐ refer for Independent Support to either of the two provider agencies, Contact a Family or I SAID!.

Although families can approach either service, staff will ask if the family is already working with the other provider on the EHC process to ensure there is no duplication. However, this is not to say that families cannot go to either service if they have ever used the other, only that they should avoid going to back and forth between the two services during the same EHC process.

Broadly speaking, if a family is already working with the wider service for one of the organisations (e.g. I SAID! is supporting with school meetings or Contact a Family is helping with a Disability Living Allowance form), it might make sense to stick with that service for Independent Support work. However, the choice is absolutely up to the family.

  • Schools, children’s centres, the local authority and other agencies may also refer people with permission /consent of the family.
  • Individual parents/carers/young people may then (with their consent) be passed on to the other provider agency, depending on the capacity at the time of each agency, to ensure that families are able to start receiving support as swiftly as possible.
  • Where a referral is passed on to the other provider agency this will be done using the agreed joint inter‐agency referral form.
  • Both provider agencies will acknowledge and respond to referrals within two working days.
  • Contact a Family will inform all families about the availability of ongoing support from the I SAID! and will make appropriate referrals to I SAID!.
  • At the end of the piece of work that Contact a Family Independent Supporters complete with parents/carers/young people they will give them the flyer with details about how to access the ongoing I SAID! service. 

Useful information and contacts:


There is no comment.