Reaching Families and WSPCF FAQs
UPDATED: 22nd July 2020
This page will be updated as new information comes in.
Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions.
Below is a series of questions that many of those within the SEND community may be asking themselves during the current times. The information has been created by
Reaching Families and West Sussex Parent Carer forum. Click the arrow to expand the box and see the answer to the question. This page is best viewed in google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.
What are the rules on staying at home and away from others?
The current Government advice aims to reduce transmission of the virus, while allowing us to do as much as possible safely.
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
The rules on meeting other people are:
stay at home as much as possible
work from home if you can
limit contact with other people
keep your distance from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
meet in groups of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) in any location - public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household - you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case - even inside someone’s home - that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
continue to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household
When you do leave your house, you should follow the advice on Staying Safe Outside your Home which includes:
Everyone must comply with these measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
Maintaining 2 metres distance from anyone not in your household
Wash your hands frequently, use alcohol hand sanitiser when that is not possible, especially when entering a building or touching surfaces, and avoid touching your face
Consider wearing a face covering if you cannot avoid being in a busy area (face coverings are compulsory on public transport and when attending hospital appointments or visiting patients and will become compulsory in shops and supermarkets from 24th July, with some exemptions )
Washing clothes regularly if you are around people from other households
Consider being side-by-side, rather than face-to-face, if you cannot maintain 2 metre distance, this reduces the risk of being exposed to respiratory droplets
Employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to your safety in the workplace. The government has issued guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus . This includes guidance on how to make adjustments to your workplace to help you maintain social distancing.
There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection, or if you have been contacted by the new NHS test and trace system .
This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. If you are clinically vulnerable, meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, you are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.
If you or a member of your household is clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions - you are you are advised to continue to take precautions if you do choose to go outside, to keep safe by keeping two metres apart at all times. You should only spend time with members of your own household, though if you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. From the 1st August, the Government will pause shielding, unless the rates of transmission of Covid-19 begin to rise significantly, which you should read about here .
If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school, nursery or pre-school. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.
The Family Information Service can offer help and advice with nursery, pre-school and school settings that are open to meet these needs.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Find out more from the World Health Organisation .
We know that families caring for a child with SEND may be particularly worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus. We therefore wanted to share some information for parents and carers that might help. You can access current UK Government Guidelines and advice here
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms:
A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
A new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Should I go to the doctor if I have a temperature or cough?
No. Use the 111 online coronavirus service if you have any of the symptoms. 111 will tell you what to do and help you get a test if you need one.
If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for 7 days or longer until your temperature is normal, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
If you get worse or your symptoms last longer than 7 days you should call NHS 111.
What should I do if my child gets unwell during this time?
Medical professionals are urging us to still consult with our GP’s or other members of medical teams if you have any health concerns, while being cautious not to overload the NHS by avoiding dangerous activities and considering which is the most appropriate response for situations.
This poster was produced by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, it may be worth downloading or saving as a quick reference guide.
Call 111 if you are worried about a baby or child under 5.
If your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there is something seriously wrong, call 999.
Am I or my child in a “vulnerable group”?
The government hasn’t given any specific advice on vulnerable children but they have made a list that can be found on the governemnt website should be particularly vigilant in social distancing during the Coronavirus outbreak:
For information on whether you fall into the extremely vulnerable group, and what action you should take, go to the government website for guidance for extremley vulnerable groups.
If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
I need help or want to offer support, where can I go?
If you believe you are in a vulnerable group, or are having difficulty during this time, and need help finding local support then contact the the West Sussex Community Hub . You can also call on 033 022 27980, lines are open 8am to 8pm.
What should I do if I need to self-isolate?
You should follow the NHS advice about staying at home. Where possible you should try to get someone else to care for the child(ren) so that you can self-isolate in a separate room. You ideally need to keep two metres away from others, sleep in a separate bed, and use your own towels. Please see more advice on the NHS website.
West Sussex County Council Community Hub to register for or to offer help.
In addition for my child with SEND/underlying medical condition, I also care for an elderly relative. What should I do?
As both elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk we advise you to do all you can to minimise spread of the infection according to the latest NHS advice .
Coronavirus is a real threat to vulnerable members of my family, should we consider an Advanced Care Plan or ReSPECT document for them?
There is a lot of information in the media about whether some people will get treatment if they need it because of Covid-19. There is a Clinical Frailty Score (CFS) system, which could be used to help Doctors make decisions on whether a person has a good chance of recovery if they receive intensive care treatment, or whether palliative care, where there comfort is the most important consideration, is more appropriate. This CFS system is primarily designed for older people, but it had raised concern that it puts children and adults with learning disabilities &/or medical conditions at a disadvantage in securing treatment.
The NHS Specialised Clinical Frailty Network was quick to make it clear it did not recommend the CFS be used for those with learning disabilities and other groups. “It [the CFS] may not perform as well in people with stable long term disability such as cerebral palsy, whose outcomes may be very different compared to older people with progressive disability. We would advise that scale is not used in these groups.” However, it said other aspects of the guidance – including discussing the risks and benefits of critical care support with patients, carers or advocates – were still relevant.
Therefore, discussing with your Doctor, Paediatrician or Specialist, whether an Advanced Care Plan, or a ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) document, might be worth considering, could be an option. These documents can take into account many different situations, and can focus on whether there is a progressive deterioration in health and quality of life, or whether that with the exception of acute illness, health is stable and quality of life is good. Your medical professional can provide advice and support with this, you may be able to request to speak to a Palliative Care team or discuss this with someone from the Hospice or Community Nursing Team if you are under one. There are also resources online that can help you to think about what treatment options you do and don’t want to consider:
Together for Short Lives Website
Child and Young Person’s Advance Care Plan Collaborative (CYPACP) website
Resuscitation Council's (UK) webpage on ReSPECT
Special Child Website
Should I be asking my child’s doctor for additional medication for them at this time?
GPs and pharmacies are reassuring patients that medical supply chains are in place and working well but we have also read stories about shortages and delays. Check your child’s supply of medication now and, if you are worried about running out, you should call your GP surgery or Community Paediatrician and talk to them about reordering.
Should /can we stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene products or over the counter medicine? Can GPs help as some shops are already empty?
If you have care staff from an agency providing care to your home, they should continue to provide their own supplies of PPE and they should be able to order supplies as necessary through processes set up by Public Health England to respond to this pandemic.
The Government has produced guidelines for those receiving Direct Payments and this covers advice on PPE and where you may be able to access it. If you use Independent Lives for respite or Payroll services, you may be able to contact them for help to secure PPE supplies.
If you already get pain relief medication via prescription, you will be able to reorder this via your nominated pharmacy, otherwise you would have to contact your GP first to request it. If the big supermarkets don’t have any paracetamol or Calpol, try your local corner shop or convenience store. Alternatively, ask some of your neighbourhood or online networks.
My child has high anxiety/mental health issues and is very worried about the CV/Covid-19. What can I do to support them?
How a child or young person reacts can vary according to their age, how they understand information and communicate, their previous experiences, and how they typically cope with stress. Negative reactions may include worrying thoughts about their health or that of family and friends, fear, avoidance, problems sleeping, or physical symptoms such as stomach ache.
During this time, it’s important that you take care of your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and support is available if you need it.
Listen and acknowledge: Children and young people may respond to stress in different ways. Signs may be emotional, behavioural or physical. Look out for any changes in their behaviour.
Provide clear information about the situation: All children and young people want to feel that their parents and caregivers can keep them safe. The best way to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands regularly
Be aware of your own reactions: Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important.
Create a new routine: Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine – especially if they are not at school.
Limit exposure to media and talk about what they have seen and heard: Children and young people, like adults, may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage of the outbreak in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find out from other sources, such as online or through friends.
There are easy to read, video resources and social stories explaining coronavirus for children and young people, for example:
I have high anxiety/mental health issues of my own and I am getting very anxious about Coronavirus, what should I do/who can help me?
It is understandable to feel anxious in times like these. There are a number of online resources to help with coping strategies. In particular we would recommend the following:
Reaching Families can offer access to affordable (£10 per session/£5 if on work-related benefits) emergency TELEPHONE COUNSELLING for parents struggling with mental health issues. If you would like to make a self-referral to this service please complete the contact form or email [email protected]
Reaching Families are also offering free Mindfulness zoom workshops,continuing over the summer holidays, which can be booked via Click here " target="_blank"> Eventbrite .
My child has an EHCP, can I send them to school or nursery? Will they receive all their EHCP provision?
Children with EHC Plans are prioritised for school and nursery attendance, this also includes children with a draft EHCP. Now that there has been progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, all eligible children are encouraged to attend settings (where there are no shielding concerns for the child or their household), even if parents are able to keep their children at home. Each school/nursery setting will be able to advise what they can offer.
There were some temporary changes to the law on Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans, which allowed local authorities, schools and health bodies some flexibility in timescales and provision of services. This guidance allowed some changes to the precise provision in EHC plans; with local authorities needing instead to apply ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support these children and their families. These changes end on 31st July 2020 and then local authorities and health commissioning bodies would in all cases need to secure or arrange the full range of provision, as specified in the EHC plan.
My child attends an alternative provision (AP) school, are they still open?
Not all settings will remain open. Contact your AP school to check what they have put in place.
Alternative provision settings should mirror the approach to re-opening being taken for mainstream schools and also offer some face-to-face support for years 10 and 11 students (as they have no year 12). Children of critical workers, and vulnerable children who are already eligible, should continue to be offered a place, regardless of the year group they are in.
My child is at college/further education setting, what is happening with them?
Colleges and other providers are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children and young people including:
Where it is not possible to remain open, providers will work with other providers in order to put alternative arrangements in place for vulnerable learners.
dependents of critical workers
vulnerable children and young people
Secondary schools, sixth-form colleges and further education colleges have been asked to offer some face-to-face support for year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside priority groups.
My child has a place with a residential provider, can they remain there?
The Government has asked residential further education providers to keep their residential provision open where necessary, and decisions made on a case by case basis. It is especially important that residential providers remain open to those who have particular needs that cannot be accommodated safely at home, and those who do not have suitable alternative accommodation.
My child is entitled to go to school (& has a confirmed place during this time), will they still be entitled to transport and will they need to wear a face covering?
The Coronavirus Bill allows for some statutory provisions to be disallowed, this means that it has amended the provision of free transport to become “reasonable endeavours”, West Sussex County Council have stated:
Children who travel on county council-provided transport (coach, minibus or taxi) should still have access to a full service, but due to possible staff shortages, some flexibility will no doubt be needed and appreciated.
All parents who do not accompany their children to school are advised to have a contingency plan agreed with their child in case transport is late or does not arrive. This is particularly important at the moment.
My child is going through EHC needs assessment but does not have a draft EHCP are they part of the priority group?
Currently they are not part of the priority group. SENAT will continue with the assessment as best they can but until they issue a draft EHCP these pupils do not become part of the priority group.
At the point of agreeing a draft EHCP they will discuss with parents/school the wish for them to return to school. Decisions and actions associated with individual pupils returning to school will be made as is most sensible for that pupil and taking into account the current challenges.
The deadlines which previously applied to LAs when considering EHC needs assessment requests have been relaxed. Where it is not reasonably practicable or it is impractical for an LA or other body to meet certain deadlines “for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)”, they must instead complete that step as soon as it is practicable for them to do so.
These changes are included in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Amendment Regulations’) , which amend the timescales in the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014 . The changes are in force until 25 September 2020.
Can I request an EHC needs assessment at this time?
Advice from IPSEA states that: “The guidance on EHC needs assessments and plans during the COVID-19 crisis makes clear that requests for assessment must continue to be considered.
Decisions about whether or not to assess will continue to be made solely on the legal test. If a LA refuses to assess, then it must continue to send out the statutory notification (along with notice of appeal rights and deadlines) to the parents or young person…Where it is not reasonably practicable or it is impractical for an LA or other body to meet certain deadlines “for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)”, they must instead complete that step as soon as it is practicable for them to do so.
These changes are included in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Amendment Regulations’) , which amend the timescales in the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014 . The changes are in force until 25 September 2020.
The changes are in force until 25 September 2020. Importantly, they do not apply where the deadline had already passed before 1 May 2020 – because the Amendment Regulations can only be relied on for the period since they came into force.”
I’m worried we will be asked to provide some education or learning for our children whilst they are off school, but I wouldn’t know where to start?
Schools will have sent home resources for the children. Clearly, this may be much harder for some children with learning difficulties or additional needs, or if you have to work from home as well as look after the children. There are lots of tips online from experienced home educators, including advice to create a clutter-free learning space and a schedule to help you all know what to expect and keep on track, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your children as this is going to be new for everyone. Remember exercise and fresh air will be beneficial for you all, so try to get plenty into your day, a great idea we’ve seen is to “walk to school”, to go for a walk in the morning before you start any activities, just as though you were walking to school.
The BBC Bitesize website will begin lessons on Monday 20th April from 9am, and offers lots of learning and activities appropriate to age or key stage.
Compass Card have compiled a web page called Leisure , Learning & Lock-down which provides useful information on things to do whilst coronavirus prevents us moving around freely.
West Sussex County Council have produced this document, with advice reassurance and education resources for families.
Although library buildings are closed, there are still lots of services you can access whilst you're at home, including a select & collect service. West Sussex Libraries – Family Corner Facebook group is a new facebook group for families from the library service.
For further information on educational resources please visit the Reaching Families general information page on coronavirus .
Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?
When using IT equipment, pupils should try to avoid awkward static postures by changing position regularly and getting up/moving and stretching between tasks.
Children should take regular rest breaks with at least 5-10 minutes of non screen time every hour. This will help to protect their eyes and also will help with their attention span.
Pupils should sit in a suitable position in the home such as a kitchen table or desk; sat in a comfortable and a supportive chair. It is not safe or healthy for pupils to be using laptops on their laps or mobile devices whilst sat on a sofa or in bed. Charging cables must be kept secure and used safely to avoid fire hazards or risk of electrocution.
Where PCs are being used, they should be set up and adjusted to ensure screens are at eye level and keyboards and mice are accessible so as to avoid eye and neck strain.
Pupils using mobile devices, including laptops tablets and mobile smartphones should be supported to take regular breaks (every 20 minutes) and to use stands where possible to help tilt the screen.
Good hygiene should also be encouraged including wiping mobile devices with suitable cleaning products on a regular basis.
If you or your child are concerned about something they have seen online or have experienced any negative issues, you can report via the Internet Watch Foundation and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), details below:
Social Media: If children stumble across worrying or criminal content online, it should be reported to the Child Exploitation & Online Protection centre via their website.
Child sexual abuse images: If criminal content is discovered online, it should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation via their website . Criminal content in the UK includes child sexual abuse images, criminally obscene adult content as well as non-photographic child sexual abuse images.
Online terrorism: Terrorism related content should be reported to the police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit website .
Hate speech: Online content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender should be reported to True Vision's website .
For more general information about ways to stay safe online, visit the Fire, Emergencies and web page on online saftey.
Credit for the above advice goes to Alison Hannant - Schools Safeguarding Adviser, Safeguarding in Education.
How long will schools be closed for?
The Government has announced that schools should reopen for early years (including nurseries and childminders); reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from the week commencing 1st June, providing that settings can operate safely.
The Government expects secondary schools, sixth form, and further education colleges to begin some face to face support with year 10 and 12 pupils, although does not expect these pupils to return on a full-time basis at this stage.
Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools should work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups and should be informed by risk assessments.
For nurseries, childminders, and other early years providers, restrictions on group sizes will be lifted from 20 July, increasing capacity from the start of the summer holiday.
From September, all schools, colleges and nurseries are expected to fully reopen to all children and young people because infection rates are falling. Covid-19 secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission, with schools being asked to keep children in class or year group sized ‘bubbles’ and encourage older children to keep their distance from each other and staff where possible. This is alongside protective measures such as regular cleaning and handwashing.
There are measures in place for when there are confirmed cases or outbreaks in schools and you can read about this here .
My child is going to start back at school, how can I help them cope?
For now schools have been asked to ensure classes have no more than 15 children in, so class sizes may be smaller which could mean they are not with some of their friends. It may also mean they are not returning to school full time yet.
From September, the Government has stated that all children are expected to return to school and schools are encouraged to keep children in class or year group bubbles. They may stagger break and lunch times to reduce interaction between groups. Busy corridors should be avoided as much as possible.
Some pupils with SEND (whether with education, health and care plans or on SEN support) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that this will involve, so teachers and special educational needs coordinators should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories.
There are many resources for helping children with return to school:
If my child is eligible, is it compulsory for them to attend school?
Children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) are strongly encouraged to attend, as requested by their school or college, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).
You should notify your child’s school or college as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you.
Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, this exemption has been extended to 31st July 2020.
What advice and support is there for Siblings of Children with SEND?
At this difficult time, siblings will be spending far more time at home together than usual. This could be adding extra tension and creating more anxieties. Where possible, try to set aside some time for each child and help them to talk about their feelings, or acknowledge their concerns, but try to keep it age appropriate – see the questions above on anxiety. Keeping in contact with friends and other family members via technology is just as important as getting some exercise.
YoungSibs have a website with lots of suggestions and advice.
My child gets angry and can become violent, what can I do?
Young Minds offer support and advice to Parents, Children and Young People on many aspects of mental health, with additional resources for during this Coronavirus situation. One area that has been of concern for many families is the increased risk of violence while on lockdown. Young people with developmental issues may struggle to manage angry feelings. Children who have speech and language problems can get frustrated when they find it difficult to understand and communicate their emotions.
When a child or young person is very angry, they can get verbally or physically aggressive and even violent. YoungMinds provide the following advice:-
“It can be hard to help them, especially when they say there is nothing wrong and that everyone else has the problem. If safe to do so for you and the child remove yourself from the room. If not safe to do so, and you feel that you or anyone else are at immediate risk of harm, warn the child that if the aggression does not stop you will contact the police and follow through if they do not stop.
Calling the police to intervene in a situation with your child is an incredibly difficult thing for any parent to have to do. If your safety, or the safety of other family members, is in question, this may be the only course of action. The police can be incredibly supportive in responding to mental health issues, and can section someone under the Mental Health Act, if appropriate.”
I’m worried about Domestic Violence, what can I do?
Anyone forced to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner or ex-partner’s reaction is experiencing abuse. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. The lockdown imposed because of Coronavirus has increased the risk of domestic violence for some people.
Suggested actions if you are experiencing Domestic Abuse:
Safe in Sussex are a local charity that can offer advice and support, contact them Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm on 0330 333 7416, or by emailing
Firstly, speak to a trusted neighbour, family member or friend and arrange a safe word and emoji that can be texted to them quickly in an emergency so they know to contact 999. Ask neighbours to call 999 if they hear arguments or violence. Keep phones topped up, charged and accessible.
West Sussex County Council recommend downloading personal safety phone apps like Hollie, which can silently contact designated people with a shake or tap of a phone. It can also work if deceleration, impact or non-movement is detected.
If you are in a situation where violence is escalating, try to move away from the kitchen where there are sharp or heavy objects and stay close to the exits or any lockable rooms you can barricade yourself in while you get help. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
[email protected] More information can be found on their website.
Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it. Domestic abuse is a crime. Gor more informaton and support follow the links below:
What support can we expect from Reaching Families and West Sussex Parent Carer Forum during this time?
The challenging times we find ourselves in requires Reaching Families to reinvent how it works, use technology and creativity to reach families in need and find new ways of ensuring parents and families in our community can stay connected. Building on our experience providing information, training and peer support we will be adjusting our work to offer parents and families the following wide range of support during the Coronavirus outbreak:
We will continue to provide up-to-date INFORMATION on Coronavirus including researching and publishing a series of relevant FACT SHEETS for our families.
We will deliver TRAINING WEBINARS, VIDEOS AND LIVE CHATS on relevant subjects like anxiety, behaviour, food issues, resilience, home-schooling and resilience.
We will provide affordable access to emergency TELEPHONE COUNSELLING for parents struggling with mental health issues.
We will provide TELEPHONE BEFRIENDING to parents who would benefit from the emotional support and understanding of another parent-carer.
We will host VIDEO CONFERENCING sessions on Zoom to allow our Umbrellas members to stay connected (new members are very welcome!).
We will use our Facebook group to enable parents to stay connected and reach out for emotional and practical support including help with shopping, deliveries, etc.
We will do everything we can…
WEST SUSSEX PARENT CARER FORUM:
In these times of uncertainty and change, WSPCF remains open for business, despite our office being closed for the foreseeable future. We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that every parent carer across West Sussex has the opportunity to seek the information, training and support that they need. We are also available to attend meetings with our partners across education, health and social care - remotely of course. The show must go on!
We have had to make some changes to the way we deliver our work, and we are using technology to deliver some of our most popular events and activities.
Our promise to you follows:
We will research and publish up to date information on Coronavirus, including information that is relevant to parent carers
We will continue to provide up to date information on SEND - digitally where possible
We will signpost parent carers to other organisations who may offer more specialist support
We will continue to provide information and inspiration through a broad range of daily Facebook posts
We will run Virtual Pop Ups hosted by our team of Parent Carer Reps - come as you are and join in the chat
We will support you via telephone, email or Facebook Messenger
We will encourage connection and dialogue between parent carers via our Facebook page
We will be there when you need us - including during the Easter holidays
We will develop our website so that members can access our top tips online. Watch this space!
Please feel free to spread the word amongst your friends and families. If you have any questions, or would like any help as you navigate these difficult times, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
We will remain in contact with our partners across Education, Health and Social Care, attending virtual meetings where possible, to represent the voice of parent carers across West Sussex
If my child’s PA is symptom free, would they still be able to come and help/take my child out now schools are closed?
Yes, though Social Distancing measures are in place and you should only leave the house for permitted reasons, see above
My child/young person struggles when out and about, and/or won’t wear a face covering, what can I do?
From Monday 1st June, you are allowed to spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines. This can include a Carer who is not a member of your household being within the 2metre rule if necessary. This information is from the Government publication Coronavirus Outbreak FAQS What You Can and Can't Do .
Sussex Police have the Pegasus Card scheme, for people who find it hard to communicate with the Police – they keep your pre-registered information safely and can access it quickly if you call or see us. You don't need to repeat all your details. Registration is free and for anyone who has a disability or illness that may make it hard to communicate with the police in an emergency or difficult situation. Go to the Sussex Police Pegasus Card information and registration page .
The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
young children under the age of 11
not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
to eat or drink, but only if you need to
to take medication
if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are many different cards that you can order or print off, such as those which can be attached to a sunflower lanyard, to explain the difficulties and these should be accepted.
If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
What advice should I be giving to my child’s PA about self-isolating, whether they should still be working, etc.?
As employers, we have responsibilities and we want to be sure we are doing things properly Independent Lives have produced some really useful, detailed guidance about what to do if your PA is self isolating either because they are displaying symptoms or because you feel it’s safer for them to do so for everyone’s wellbeing. See Independent Lives website .
We know that some families are being creative with their care and may be utilising video calls and other services, such as having carers shop for essential supplies instead, but this may not be an option for many families.
This Think Local Act Personal website gives advice for families using Direct Payments about access to PPE and links to the Government Q & A for direct payments.
The Government has announced that all essential workers can be tested if they are symptomatic for Coronavirus, you as an employer can register, or the keyworker can self-refer themselves or a member of their household (which would force them into self-isolation and unable to work/leave the house).
If you have concerns about whether to have your PA’s back, because of the Coronavirus risk, discuss with your social worker, agency or payroll provider, or your employer insurance, if they have a helpline.
My child is due to have an Social Communication/Autism assessment or further assessment by a paediatrician in the Child Development Centre, will this go ahead?
We understand that NHS England have advised all Child Development Centres to cancel any appointments for assessment that are non-urgent at the present time. We expect that you will receive confirmation of this directly if you are awaiting an appointment.
We understand that CDC’s will continue to offer appointments – almost all by phone- for children with complex neuro-disability and epilepsy. Children will be seen if the clinical need is urgent.
My child has currently got therapy support or other appointments coming up. Will these still be going ahead?
We recommend you contact the provider in question if you have not heard the week before your appointment and confirm before you set off to travel.
Questions about money?
What is happening with Disability benefits – DLA & PIP – during this time?
Reaching Families have produced a factsheet available on our website, detailing changes to DLA & PIP at this time.
Robert Hayes, the West Sussex Welfare Benefits Advisor, is in place to provide advice and support on benefit queries, contact him via email at [email protected] or call on 033022 22569.
My child would normally receive free school meals and I am worried about the extra costs of feeding my family when the schools are closed
Under normal circumstances, schools are not expected to provide free school meals to disadvantaged children who are not attending due to illness or if the school is closed. However, schools are expected to provide meals or vouchers for those children entitled to free school meals,which has been extended to cover the summer holidays, the Government has issued guidance and set up a scheme for schools to access shopping vouchers and we recommend you contact your child’s school to find out what plans they have in place.
If you cannot afford food during the Coronavirus situation then contact the [Trussel Trust]( https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/emergency-food/) who have food banks set up.
Children and Family Centres
All groups and events for children, young people and families have been stopped.
Nine centres remain open across West Sussex to act as support centres, offering crisis payments and for distributing food parcels. The list of these centres is as follows:
Contact details and addresses can be found on their website. Please contact them if you need support.
Adur and Worthing – Durrington and Kingston Buci Family Centre
Arun – Treehouse Children and Family Centre
Chichester – Chichester Children and Family Centre
Crawley – Bewbush Children and Family Centre
Horsham – Hurst Road Youth Centre
Mid Sussex - Park Youth Centre
I am self-employed, what help am I entitled to?
Please see our Benefit Changes Factsheet , it gives information on the Self-employed Income Support Scheme and ESA (Employment & Support Allowance).
I am an employee, what help am I entitled to?
Please see our Benefit Changes Factsheet , it gives information on SSP (Statutory Sick Pay), Parental Leave, Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme.
Will my tax credits be affected if I am furloughed or working less hours during Coronavirus pandemic?
The government has confirmed that people who can’t work their normal hours because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will still receive their usual tax credits payments.
Those working reduced hours due to coronavirus or those being furloughed by their employer will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed. This will be the case until the Job Retention and Self-employment Income Support schemes close – even if you are not accessing one of those schemes. You do not need to contact HMRC about this change.
You should still report any other changes in income, childcare and hours in the normal way. You must tell HMRC if you or your partner lose their job, are made redundant or cease trading. Check GOV.UK to see if any additional or alternative support is available based on your personal and financial circumstances.
How will I pay my rent or my mortgage if I have to stop working?
Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants until the 23rd August. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.
At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances. Until 30th September 2020, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants at least three-months’ notice.
Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months.
How can I get food and essential items from the shops?
If you are self-isolating because you or anyone in your household has symptoms of Covid-19/Coronavirus, then you should not leave the house to do any shopping. You should enlist the help of friends, family or neighbours to drop essential urgent supplies to your doorstep with no contact at all (see what should I do if I need to self-isolate?).
Some local stores have begun offering deliveries to their local communities and may have supplies of essentials. Social media and the various groups set up have collated many lists on which stores are offering deliveries, check with your local Community Coronavirus Support Group.
It is highly recommended to use cashless payment options, and even contactless if possible.
The major supermarkets have set aside some hours for vulnerable and key workers. Check with you your local stores and/or social media.