Hackney Council is to pay thousands to two families for failing in its duty of care towards children with special educational needs. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has criticised the council for its disregard for statutory timescales and its restriction on access to resources through the use of waiting lists. Councils should take a maximum of 20 weeks to complete an educational, health and care plan, the key document outlining children’s educational, health and social needs and how they should be met.
In the first case, a boy with autism spectrum disorder received his plan after 69 weeks. His parents were forced to borrow money on credit and remortgage their property in order to fund his support needs. In the second case, a boy with Down’s Syndrome waited 48 weeks.
‘Some families have to go well beyond the call of duty to confirm the type of support their children should receive, and I’m sorry to say this happened in both these cases and in others we are investigating,’ commented the ombudsman Michael King. The LGSCO went on to make several recommendations for the council to improve the process including streamlining its process to meet the 20 week timescale.
This follows the news that families are due to take the government to the High Court over funding for Special Educational Needs. The judicial review is listed June 26 and 27. Families have also organised the SEND National Crisis March at the end of last month at locations across the country to protest against the failings in the EHCP process.