This letter has been sent to John Macilwraith - Executive Director – People - Dan Barton - Assistant Director - Education and Skills - Mary Mulligan - Senior Manager Inclusion - Greg Everatt- Senior Commissioning Manager, Children and Families - NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group - Julia Westaway - commissioning manager at Lancashire north clinical commissioning Group
As chair of the forum I am writing to you on behalf of the 600 + members of the forum. Like you, we were very disappointed to hear the feedback from the inspection. We remain totally committed to working with the LA and health in partnership to ensure we have the best outcomes for our children and young people. I know that the leaders in Cumbria also want this and this letter is about suggesting how we might work better.
As an example, I want to look at the consultation on the RP sent out recently. We know that this development is important and, from reading the document, that you think it will increase more choice for parents. We do think that this is a key piece of work that we should have helped form from the beginning and, if this had happened, we would have been in a better position to advise parents who are contacting us with concerns. As your strategic partner we would have been able -
To tell you the questions most parents would have asked us to ask you.
Have a set of key messages about the proposal to answer the questions asked by parents.
Suggested suitable timings on when to send out the consultation
Worked with you to support the face to face meetings
We know that as officers you have been very busy since the inspection and this may have ‘slipped through the net’ but this is a key piece of work and we want the consultation to go well. It would be helpful to meet with you to discuss how; in practice this proposal will would work.
The inspection team found that ‘The parent carer forum lacks influence and does not have the capacity to significantly influence the local area and co-produce alongside professionals. Very few parents and carers have heard of the forum and the membership of the forum does not adequately reflect the diverse range of families who have children with SEND.’
We accept those findings and over many years we have lost significant numbers of very experienced parent carers and have found it very difficult to recruit new members. Some parents feel that this is because parent carers in Cumbria have not seen any examples of effective engagement in service developments with the LA or CCGs. With this in mind we think the time is right to look at how we are working as a forum as your strategic partner and how we might, with your support develop our forum further.
As a starting point I am aware that there is a self-assessment tool developed by CONTACT to judge the strength of co-production. I will be happy to share the link with you.
I am assuming that, when you begin to put together the Written Statement of Action there will be a strand on co-production/trust building and this may be timely in developing the relationship at an individual level with parents and at a strategic level with us as your partner organisation.
Shirley (CPCF chair)