WSPCF began life in the sitting room of a parent carer, and in the beginning was run out of a carrier bag! It was 2008 and parent carer forums were being developed across England through support provided by ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ – a government funded initiative.
In West Sussex our small group of parent carers quickly became involved in supporting parent participation; helping to shape services for disabled children and their families. The aim was to have parent members who represented a range of disabilities, who would influence improvements in services across education, health and social care.
In 2011, the government issued a Green Paper aimed at reforming the system for children with special educational needs and disabilities. WSPCF took to the road, travelling the length and breadth of West Sussex to discover and record parents’ hopes and fears for the future, and what ‘good’ could look like. Those opinions were fed back to central government and, in 2014, the Children & Families Act was finally given Royal Assent. Changes to the law give greater protection to vulnerable children; it replaces SEN Statements with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) that cover a child’s education health and care needs, and extends education provision for young people with SEND to the age of 25.
Whilst all that was going on, behind the scenes, Forum members were busy transforming WSPCF into a charity limited by guarantee… which is how we got to where we are today!