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One of the UK’s first centres to help disabled children and their families stay in their home and communities is being explored by City of York Council.

 

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This proposed centre plans to use innovative approaches to services and support, and forms part of the wider development and further improvement of services for disabled children and young people in the city.

Designed by the council and partners to not only benefit York’s but neighbouring authorities’ children and young people, the centre would be financially sustainable and could also lead the development of social care practice regionally and nationally.

The concept and design comes directly from the ideas, views and experiences of parents, carers and children and young people from across the city. With them, a model and approach for the centre has been developed that addresses some key challenges faced by parents and disabled children and young people.

The centre could provide a range of services and interventions in a safe and accessible space, which will enable children to remain with their families and in their communities. This could include providing short breaks in the heart of the community to meet the needs of disabled children and young people. Delivered by social care experts who know the children and young people, these tailored short breaks would be complemented by other residential and therapeutic short breaks. They in turn respond to specific and complex issues which otherwise could put at risk a child or young person’s continued care at home.

A key element of the centre of excellence would be the Family Intervention Rapid Support Team (FIRST). This will support families caring for a child or young person with autism and a learning disability and with behaviour which affects their ability to live in the local community. FIRST will provide intensive holistic assessment and intervention and will collaborate with local children’s mental health services and social care to maximise expert advice and provide wrap-around, consistent support. This model of care has had national backing through government-led initiatives and a recent Department of Health review by Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children.

The proposed expansion of services includes a regional commissioning and delivery model in partnership with other local authorities. Collectively, the aim is to deliver effective services and a joint agency response to some of the most vulnerable children and young people across the city and region.

The council is currently exploring with the Hob Moor Federation of Schools and the Ebor Academy Trust, site options for the centre of excellence. There are ongoing discussions and investigations into whether co- located resources for disabled children and their families could be developed with Hob Moor Oaks Special School. The local community, stakeholders and disabled children and their parent / carers are being engaged to develop these plans and vision.

Cllr Suzie Mercer, executive member for education, children, and young people, said: “This ambition to build York’s and one of the UK’s first centres of excellence, will deliver better outcomes for disabled children and their families.

“The innovation, creativity and co production behind the centre reflects compliments and strengthens our overall vision of enabling children and young people to stay in York in their home, and with their health, care and education needs being met.”