What We Do


This YOU TUBE CLIP from Contact A Family helps to explain the term. It shows how Parent Carer Forums work together with Local Authorities, Health, School and Colleges, to help support children and young people and their families in ‘Putting Families First’ to get the best for them.

Support & Training Courses

Our experienced parent carers deliver courses to help you understand your parenting journey, your own feelings and well-being and how to work well with others to support your child or young person. All training is for a half-day, between 10am-2pm and lunch and refreshments are included.


This YOU TUBE CLIP is feedback from the recent advanced person-centred training session for facilitators in county – person-centred planning is a set of approaches designed to assist someone to plan their life and support…… available soon to support you.


An opportunity to reflect and recognise your unique role as parent carers and the responsibilities and emotions this brings.  It also gives you space to think about your own individual situation and how it impacts on your family.  Explore what you could do for yourself, how to increase your family’s resilience and how to use tools to help you be the best advocate you can for your child.


A chance to understand the role of parent representatives at formal meetings and professional panels. It will give you an insight into the meetings the Forum attends and how to prepare for and act at these meetings as a parent rep. Initial discussions include which meetings you would prefer, with time to reflect further before making a final decision. Training also includes looking after yourself and your own emotional wellbeing when in professional meetings or sitting on panels.


An introduction to how participation should work for your child or young person as defined by the Children and Families Act 2014 and the part you can play as a parent carer. It will also start you thinking about Outcomes for your child or young person with an introduction to person-centred tools to support you.


A hands-on workshop to show you how to make and use Visual Aids to support communication and behaviour. Look at why they are useful, their practical application and various ways in which they can be used.  Have the opportunity to make a visual aid and to take away with you.  Come to a follow up session to discuss success and make further visual aids.


This training is for our parent reps to raise awareness and provide Safeguarding and Child Protection Training.

Go to our Training Schedule here for dates and information or email or call 01903 726188.

Parent Carer Grant

THE FORUM WORKS IN PARTNERSHIP with Carers Support West Sussex on this grant to support health and wellbeing of parent carers. Parent Carer Grants (also known as the Carer Wellbeing Fund) are funded from Local Authority Short Breaks and NHS money. Parents complete an application form and a monthly panel of parent carers and Carers Support make the awards. This fund cannot be used for carers who are paid/employed to care for disabled children/young people for example foster carers. Respite for paid/employed carers should be discussed through their employers.

The money from the fund can be used flexibly on purposes which would enhance a carer’s health and or/wellbeing; for instance carers have previously used the money for gym/swimming sessions, breaks away (without the cared for), massage and de-stressing therapies. If you identify a purpose that we cannot consider from this fund, we will try and suggest other possible sources of funding that you could apply to. As there is limited funding, we may not be able to consider the whole cost of what you are asking for, but will try and make a contribution when we can, subject to the demand of the fund. Please bare in mind that applications to the fund are not guaranteed so please don’t commit yourself in advance to any arrangement.

For more information or for an application form either click here: APPLICATION FORM email or call 01903 726188.


THE PARENT AND CARER EVENT (PACE) brings together parent carers, professionals and other organisations under one roof. It is jointly run by the Forum, Reaching Families and Information Advice and Support Service, (formerly Parent Partnership Service).


The event offers guest speakers, information stands, advice and support, workshops and 1:1 sessions with a range of professionals. It’s also an opportunity to meet other parents and enjoy some of the pampering sessions provided and a buffet lunch.

The latest Parent and Carer Event (‘PACE’) was held in October in Crawley. The information event, attended by over 180 parent carers, professsionals, volunteers and representatives of local organisations, supports parent carers who have children aged 0-25 years with additional needs or disabilities. It’s run by the Forum and Reaching Families, together with SEND IASS (Information, Advice & Support Service). The event was also attended by The Worshipful the Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Chris Cheshire, who spent the day attending workshops, chatting to parent carers and finding out what kind of support and information local organisations and professionals are able to provide to parent carers and their families in West Sussex. The day included workshops, 1:1 sessions with professionals and a diverse market place with over 30 information stalls of local providers. There was also a showcasing of the Local Offer website. Jon Philpot, Principal Manager (SEN & Inclusion) for WSCC, said:

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Forum to make sure that the Local Offer is a really helpful information source for parent carers.”


HERE ARE SOME of the comments from the parent carers who attended:

“Very helpful, and a wealth of advice and support”

“Lovely to have so many organisations and professionals in one place”

“The 1:1 appointments with professionals have been so very useful”

“Absolutely fantastic advice”

“It was my first time and I found it very useful”

“I’m a Learning Support Assistant and came to pick people’s brains and to get tips. Extremely valuable thank you”.

There have been 5 events held to date, all in different areas of the County, to allow as many people to attend as possible.

Meetings We Attend

The Forum attend many different professional meetings, representing a wide range of topics and services. Trained and supported parent representatives attend to share parent carer views and work alongside others. If you’d like to get involved as a parent rep or, find out more about the meetings, please get in touch.  Here are some of the meetings we attend to give you an idea of what we do:

Alternative Augmented Communication Equipment Library

This is a new service launching in September 2015. Parents who want to trial equipment will be able access this via ‘lending libraries’. Our input will help shape this service so that it is user friendly and accessible. This meeting is held every 4-5 weeks for 2 hours, in various locations around the county.

Wheelchair Service Meetings

This meeting is held quarterly for 2 hours in Billingshurst and covers new wheelchairs, servicing, repairs, adaptions, what you can have and what you can’t have.

Weight Management Pilot Project

The north of the county are currently piloting a programme to help children and young people additional needs and disabilities and their families maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle and the programme will be rolled out throughout West Sussex. This meeting is 6 weekly to 2 monthly and is held in Horsham.

West Sussex County Council Disabled Children’s Placement Panel

This meets monthly and is a decision making panel around placements of children under the Child Disability Team to the West Sussex Short Break residential units for overnight care. Social workers come to the panel to give an overview of specific families and their situation, around a child needing regular overnight care in order for the family to have a break. Sometimes parents come with their social workers. A parent rep from the Forum sit on this panel to give reassurance to the families who attend and to support the parent carer perspective.

Autism Spectrum Condition Task and Finish Group

West Sussex County Council has identified that autism needs to be a priority in 2015 and there is an Autism Awareness Campaign currently being run by the West Sussex Communications Team. A parent rep attends this group which includes a wide breadth of relevant organisations.

Parent Carer Support Action Group ‘PCSAG’

A parent rep attends and chairs this quarterly meeting alongside Carers Support West Sussex, Reaching Families, Information Advice and Support Service, (formerly Parent Partnership Service) and the West Sussex Short Breaks Team. This is an information sharing and planning meeting to organise, plan and share information for the benefit of our members.

Schools Groups

THE FORUM FACILITATES and supports new and existing groups in schools for parents whose children have any Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). We are committed to this in order to support a positive culture change in schools to be more person-centred.  We have visited more than 25 schools over the last year all around the county.  We share information on the SEND reforms from a parental perspective, explain and model co-production, illustrate person centred approaches and outcomes for our children and families.

Thank you to the schools who have welcomed us so far including Angmering School, Baldwins Hill Primary, Brantridge School, Central Primary, Copthorne Primary, Holy Trinity Primary, Easebourne Primary, East Preston Infant, Halsford Park Primary, Handcross Primary, Holbrook Primary, Manor Field Primary, Parklands, St Wilfred’s Catholic Primary, Whytemead Primary.

We also support our neighbouring Parent Carer Forums in Hampshire and Surrey to replicate this model of work.

If you are interested in setting up a group in your school and would like help or resources, let us know.

Quote from a Special Education Needs and Disabilities Co-Ordinator (SENCo) after their first group meeting:

“The meeting created an opportunity for parents to voice their concerns no matter how unpalatable it may have appeared to us. We presume that parents understand more than they do and this has been a wakeup call.”

PACT Awards

A message from the Forum on our PACT Award Scheme which has now ended.

THE PACT AWARD SCHEME has been very important in helping to raise standards of service provision and encourage better and more meaningful engagement between providers, parent carers and their families. However, our focus has now moved to supporting and improving West Sussex County Council’s Local Offer and increasing parent participation and engagement with this, and the scheme has now ended. We are working with West Sussex County Council to ensure that the skills and learning from the PACT Awards are used to support services, parent carers and young people to use and give meaningful real time feedback on the Local Offer.

The information which has been collected and evidenced through the PACT Award scheme will still be used to reinforce good practice and working together with parent carers to improve standards. The Self-Evaluation Form developed in co-production with providers and parent carers, is available on request to any providers who wish to critically assess their own practices. Please contact us for information.

West Sussex County Council, the Short Breaks Team and the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum would like to thank everyone, including providers and assessors, for their involvement and their support for the PACT Award.

Due to the success of the scheme, we have had a number of enquiries from other parent carer forums wishing to buy the scheme for their own area. If you would like more information please email and let us know.

We’d like to congratulate the following providers on their awards:

GOLD AWARD: Durrington Children and Family Centre–Durrington, Places for People Leisure–Broadbridge Heath, Sidney West Children and Family Centre–Burgess Hill

SILVER AWARD: Albion in the Community–Brighton, Autism Sussex–Felpham, Bognor Children and Family Centre–Bognor Regis, Chanctonbury Community Play Scheme–Storrington, Chichester Children and Family Centre-Chichester, Crossroads Care–Climping, East Preston CFC–East Preston, Enable Me–Littlehampton, Fun and Breaks–Horsham, Guildcare Ashdown Centre–Worthing, Horsham Children and Family Centre–Horsham, Horsham Leisure Link–Horsham, Impulse Leisure–Lancing, Kangaroos at Ashenground Community Centre–Haywards Heath, Langley Green Children and Family Centre–Crawley, PACSO–Chichester, SCOPE–Brighton, The Springboard Project–Horsham, Worthing Leisure Centre–Worthing,

BRONZE AWARD: Boundstone Nursery School Children and Family Centre–Lancing.

Navigator Project

FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN and young people with complex health needs can sometimes come up against challenges over and above the norm especially at times of transition or change.

The ‘Ordinary Life’ or ‘Navigator’ project was an opportunity to work using the expertise from the Foundation for People with Learning Difficulties who are knowledgeable in person centered planning approaches. Together with a parent from the Forum ‘navigating’ towards goals personal to each young person and family, we were able to work to achieve the best outcomes for the young person.

Three young people took part in the pilot and WSCC have given the Forum funding to continue this work.


What We Can’t Do

THE FORUM WORKS BEST by working on general issues that affect a number of families by representing the views of parent carers in the local area. Unfortunately, we are unable to undertake individual issues that parents and carers have about their own child so we are not able to offer a 1-1 advocacy service. However, please contact us with any concerns or issues and we will support and signpost you to other relevant organisations.