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Help please - EHCP assessment start delayed

(32 Posts)
mochalight Mon 09-Jan-17 15:54:14

Hi all, can I have some advice from you please as I'm really desperate now?

LA has agreed to assess DD for EHCP and now we are in week 9 and they still haven't issued the letter to us and the professionals to start the assessment process. I called last week and they said the letter was to be issued last week. Nothing came so I called today again and they said the person working on my case is off sick and no one else can issue the letter. I asked what's to happen if she's off for a while and that person said by end of month someone will help with the work. I found this totally outrageous and I don't have time to wait forever as I want to be able to come to the stage to name school before the primary school place allocation in April.

So my questions are:
1. What should I do now? Should I send an email to them threatening them it is legally required that assessment process should have begun by now? Would being this aggressive ruin my dd's chances of getting a plan? I haven't emailed them at all but just phoned them.

2. If we can't get to the stage to name our school before April can our preferred school say they don't have space and reject to be named on the plan? The chance of dd getting a place at our preferred school is slim via the normal process.

Thanks!

dibbley Mon 09-Jan-17 15:57:14

Phone ipsea or SOSSEN.

mochalight Mon 09-Jan-17 17:19:29

Hi thanks I called SOS SEN and couldn't get through I will try again tomorrow. IPSEA is operating call back service and there is no available slot this week.

I just wonder if any parents have similar experiences here? If a school can't reject being named on the plan because of all places being allocated to other children perhaps I wouldn't be this desperate.

tartanterror Mon 09-Jan-17 19:48:03

I think you are too late to fit into the EHCP transfer/allocation process if you are only at the "assess" stage. People with finalised plans will probably have submitted preferences to the LA by now and the SEN places will be allocated in Feb (?) so that all the other admissions can be worked out after the statutory placements have been made. So while you should keep pressing them to get on with it, forget about the admissions process/timetable as your application will now run at its own pace.

If an EHCP names a school, the LA have to place your child's there. So keep going and ignore all the other stuff. Good luck!

mochalight Tue 10-Jan-17 07:46:44

Hi tartan thanks for your reply. What you said makes a lot more sense to me than the information I was given by a few people in the borough. The reason I was so desperate was because they told me I need to name the school before April as otherwise the school's places will be allocated. Now I checked IPSEA guideline and saw that being full can't be a reason. I will try calling SOS SEN when they open to ask for advice on how to get them issue that letter and start the process. Thanks!

tartanterror Tue 10-Jan-17 20:08:17

Yes do keep chasing as it all takes months - and they can shut down over the summer - which probably leaves you tight for time if they do stick to programme! Good luck

Megatherium Tue 10-Jan-17 22:28:47

It really shouldn't take months. By law, if they decide to issue an EHCP they must do it within 20 weeks of the date when you first asked. If you're now 9 weeks on from when they decided to assess, and if they took the usual 6 weeks to agree to assess, that means they are now in week 15 or 16 and are hopelessly behind.

Email them immediately pointing out the deadlines and the fact that they are statutory, and say that if they don't come back to you immediately with confirmation that they have taken the necessary steps to assess your child and comply with the deadlines you will have to apply for judicial review. Then if they don't jump, contact SOS SEN and see if they can do a formal pre-action letter, which is the first stage in the judicial review process. If you can't get through to the helpline, try their email address which I think is on the website.

tartanterror Tue 10-Jan-17 22:41:14

Thanks for the tip about the pre-action SOSSEN letter Mega - I may be in need of that soon myself. I am supposed to hear about whether our LA will assess at the end of this week..... I am not holding my breath!

I can't ever get my head around weeks so always convert to months so I can get to grips with it. 20 weeks doesn't sound too bad... but when I think of it as 5 months - nearly half a year - it seems much longer confused

user1483945709 Wed 11-Jan-17 07:05:43

Seems they are dragging their heels. When they do issue the letter, they give the date when the process will start. So in the LA's eyes process hasn't even started yet.

Did they agree at any point in writing to assess i.e. Via email?

mochalight Wed 11-Jan-17 08:08:37

Thanks all again. I called SOSSEN and they suggested me to email first and demand written notification now and if they don't respond then go back and mention judicial review.

Mega thanks for telling me about pre-action letter, I may need to do that later! And we are week 9 from request, not from when they agreed to assess but still it's awful and I think they are just making up excuses to delay things (staff sick).
tantar good luck to you too! I hope you will have a better experience than mine flowers
user no they have not sent written notification and as a first step this is what I am requesting now. I was told over the phone they have agreed to assess.

user1483945709 Wed 11-Jan-17 08:16:06

When you email, make sure to mention they have agreed, so you have evidence of it. I.e. Thank you for agreeing to assessment on X and mention person by name who agreed.

You could also add that you have sought legal advice and if you do not receive written notification within 7 days, you have been advised to start JR. Then Sen sos solicitor will take the 7 days of JR timescale, if she does have to write threatening JR.

Sos Sen solicitor, is brilliant, she will put a bomb under them and get things moving.

dibbley Wed 11-Jan-17 12:21:45

Sounds like an absolute shambles. Staff absence is not an excuse for ignoring statutory timescales.

mochalight Thu 12-Jan-17 07:54:18

Thanks user I only saw your message after I emailed them. I didn't mention JR but did say they have agreed to assess. I'm waiting to see if they will take it more seriously. I looked up SOS SEN but couldn't find solicitor information that you mentioned - how can I find this solicitor? Thanks!

Yes dibbley I was fuming when she said that on the phone. The hardest bit was to keep my tone as calm and polite as possible! Things went on smoothly until now ...

user1483945709 Thu 12-Jan-17 08:08:50

Solicitor works for Sos Sen. You contact their general number and if you need to start JR, they pass your details to their solicitor. She then contacts you via email and you communicate directly with her. She responds very quickly. She then deals directly with LA solicitors.

Pre action JR letter and any follow up letters, advice and action, until job is done i.e. You have ehcp cost £100. Well worth it. Solicitor is brilliant, replied to any letters from LA solicitor, literally same day.

Give if a week, if you haven't heard from LA, phone sos Sen.

user1483945709 Thu 12-Jan-17 08:11:39

For a further £120, she will then make sure that the law is applied to any amendments to EHCP. LA's tend to have a habit of making EHCP's extremely vague and unlawful.

Megatherium Thu 12-Jan-17 08:24:05

Have they actually formally written to you to say they are going to assess? They were supposed to do that within six weeks of your request.

mochalight Fri 13-Jan-17 06:52:13

Thanks a lot user! This is very useful information and I feel that it's highly likely I will need that.

Mega no they haven't sent me any written information. I called them a few times and every time the call was answered by a different person but they all told me (after a long search for the file every single time!) LA has agreed to assess. At the beginning they blamed Christmas and then 'you will get the letter soon' and now 'staff sickangry

Megatherium Fri 13-Jan-17 07:23:54

Ah, in that case they're three weeks or more beyond the first deadline. Certainly sounds like a case for a quick JR letter.

mochalight Mon 16-Jan-17 08:04:14

Received formal written notification finally! Letter posted on the day I emailed them reminding them their statutory obligations. It certainly looks like I will need to keep pushing as the letter is vague and does not specify any dates. Is the second deadline week 16 when LA has to inform me whether they decide to issue a plan?

Thanks all again smile

Megatherium Mon 16-Jan-17 08:27:46

Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. If they're not going to issue a plan, they have to inform you by week 16 - but there's no deadline for informing you when they are, and in practical terms if they're going to allow enough time to consult with you and schools, they would have to issue a draft slightly earlier.

I would suggest that you calculate the dates for week 16 and week 20 from the date when you first requested assessment, and write to them reminding them that they must make a decision by the first date at the latest and, if they decide to issue a plan, must have finalised it by the second date. Be ready to chase if you've still heard nothing by week 16.

user1483945709 Mon 16-Jan-17 08:28:12

Yes, although they will probably start from date of their letter, rather than date they verbally agreed.

You could email asking them to expedite process, given the delay.

Our whole process took about 10 weeks, instead of 20 weeks, so they can hurry on occasion (when parent pushes!)

Megatherium Mon 16-Jan-17 08:30:27

They don't have a choice about which date to start from - it has to be the date they received the request.

user1483945709 Mon 16-Jan-17 08:34:23

In my experience, they will do whatever the hell they want! Unless reminded of their legal obligations!

Megatherium Mon 16-Jan-17 09:06:54

Exactly - which is why they need to be reminded of their legal obligations, backed up with a threat of court action if necessary.

mochalight Mon 16-Jan-17 13:13:47

Thank you both smile
Mega I will write to them about the dates as you advised, as otherwise I'm sure they will ignore me. And user it's amazing to hear your sorted the plan out in 10 weeks! It is like the shortest I've heard from here. I will keep pushing.

The letter says they will get in touch to check if I've included all the professionals currently involved - I believe I will have to wait forever. Is it that at this point I can still write to them adding other names as more people have been involved? Also I want to request for an assessment for sensory diet but the NHS OTs in my area don't do this - can I request for a private one?

Thank you again!

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