Coun­cil an­swers par­ents’ ques­tions over axed ser­vice

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE -

LIZ Tot­man, head of chil­dren’s spe­cial­ist ser­vices for Kent County Coun­cil has an­swered sev­eral con­cerns raised by the cam­paign­ers. 1. Why weren’t all the par­ents con­sulted over the pro­vi­sion of dis­abled chil­dren’s ser­vices and sent out ques­tion­naires? “Some 260-plus par­ents – all those known to us in Ash­ford/ Shep­way – were sent a ques­tion­naire in De­cem­ber and 17 per cent re­sponded. “We know at least one of the five Ash­ford par­ents who have ex­pressed con­cern about the de­ci­sion re­ceived it as she did re­ply and was in­vited to the fol­low-up meet­ing.” 2. Why was no al­ter­na­tive ser­vice set up be­fore this one was axed? “We had started the process of seek­ing al­ter­na­tive pro­vi­sion but were hop­ing that we could ne­go­ti­ate with Kids. “We didn’t want to pull the plug.” 3. Why wasn’t Kids more widely pub­li­cised to en­cour­age more fam­i­lies to ac­cess the ser­vice, and there­fore im­prove at­ten­dance fig­ures? “Pub­li­cis­ing the Satur­day clubs was down to Kids and was one of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties they took on when we com­mis­sioned the ser­vice from them.” 4. What hap­pens to the fund­ing al­lo­cated for Kids now the ser­vice has been scrapped? “The fund­ing that was al­lo­cated for Kids is be­ing rein­vested to pro­vide a range of ser­vices for dis­abled chil­dren. “Th­ese will cover ac­tiv­i­ties, play schemes and one-to-one sup­port.” 5. Par­ents be­lieve a lack of fund­ing was re­spon­si­ble for the low num­ber of ses­sions, but what re­quire­ment did KCC make? “In our ne­go­ti­a­tions with Kids they con­sid­ered that they could pro­vide a bet­ter ser­vice if they tar­geted two age ranges, of­fer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties one week for younger chil­dren and the other week older chil­dren.” 6. Why does the re­fer­ral process take so long? “Satur­day clubs were open for fam­i­lies to re­fer them­selves di­rect to Kids, who should have pub­li­cised this ser­vice. “Sep­a­rate re­fer­rals for home sup­port and hol­i­day play schemes were agreed be­tween our­selves and Kids. “Hol­i­day play schemes were straight­for­ward, we no­ti­fied Kids of the young per­son and rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion, and it was up to them to fol­low up. “The home sup­port (one-onone) was re­lated to the num­ber of hours of as­sessed need for dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­ual chil­dren, there­fore, this did re­quire a sep­a­rate re­fer­ral form.” 7. Any more news on the Easter play scheme? “The Ash­ford days/dates have been al­lo­cated and our let­ter is go­ing out to­day to con­firm the ar­range­ments.” Ms Tot­man added com­plaints were made last year about Kids. “It is only be­cause im­prove­ments were not made and too many chil­dren were still miss­ing out that we fi­nally felt enough was enough,” she said. “We ac­cept that change for autis­tic chil­dren can be a prob­lem and prepa­ra­tion is es­sen­tial in or­der for them to ad­just.”

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