Messages from Dorset SEND

Working for you this Easter   
We wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter, as it is this weekend, although it may not feel like it. We know this is a difficult time for everyone, but we are mindful that it is even harder for many families who are caring for children with disabilities and / or additional needs. We are here for you and working hard to make sure we provide the information you need in these challenging times. Take care everyone, we will do our very best to keep you updated as fast as we can, both through this newsletter and our website.
Our SEND coronavirus information
Coronavirus- Government update on exercise
The Government has updated its advice about exercise during Coronavirus. It now says that if you have a Learning Disability, Autism or a ‘significant health condition’ and need to take exercise in an open space two or three times each day, you can do this – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.

You must still make sure you stay as close to home as possible and remain at least 2 meters apart from anyone, who is not a member of your household, or a carer, at all times.
Updated Government SEND exercise guidance
Keeping in touch with you 
Dorset schools will be contacting  the families of vulnerable children and young people on a weekly  basis during school closures. The Government’s definition of a vulnerable child or young person, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, is anyone with a social worker or an EHCP, (Education, Health and Care Plan).
However, if you have support from a worker from social care, Family Partnership Zones, the SEN team, Portage, Educational Psychology, SALT and Therapy Team, Continence Service, Behaviour Support Service, Hearing and Vision Support Services, SENDIASS, SENSS or CAHMS and you need to talk to someone, please don’t wait for them to contact you. Please get in touch, services are running.

If you need general help, our public helpline is open from 8am-8pm, seven days a week, call 01305 221022.   

New services from the Council for Disabled Children 
The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has launched two new email services. One provides everyone with the opportunity to ask questions and the other will allow useful resources to be shared.  

The first, the ‘CDC questions’ email address has been set-up so that parents, carers and families of children and young people with SEND can ask questions about how Coronavirus will impact on children and young people with SEND. Each week, CDC will share these questions with the Department for Education, (DfE), and government ministers and then publish the replies they get in a weekly ‘Newsflash’ on Fridays. You can sign up for the CDC Newsflash here by selecting ‘CDC Digest’.           

The second, the ‘CDC resources’ email address allows parents, carers, professionals and practitioners to share resources. CDC will collect these resources and add them to their COVID-19 Support and Guidance web page.
‘This is Me’ Care Passport – useful to prepare in case of hospital visits    
Any one of our children could get ill or have an accident at any time and could need to go into hospital. It is important to plan ahead, so that you don’t have to make difficult decisions at a time of distress and worry.

One of the things that you can do to plan ahead is have a ‘This is Me’ Care Passport for your child or young person. Some of you may have one of these already. If so, please have a look at it and make sure that it is up to date. 

If you haven’t got a ‘This is Me’ Care Passport, we have taken some advice from local hospitals and this is the template that you need to use.
‘This is Me’ Care Passport template
Free School Meals – update
Different schools in Dorset have been making their own arrangements for free school meals. Some schools have been providing meals for collection or delivery and others have been giving families vouchers. If you have any questions about these arrangements, please contact your school.We also wanted to let you know that schools have been asked to move to a new Government-run national voucher scheme by the end of April. They will be in touch with you about this. Children will be able to access the new vouchers whether or not they are in school. Each child will receive a £15 weekly shopping voucher that can be spent in a supermarket of your choice. 
Free school meals – more information
Online resources for families at home 
The Government have brought together a list of online educational resources to help children to learn at home. This includes resources for English, Maths, Science, PE, wellbeing and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). They are free and will help parents support their children to learn – but they do not replace the resources that schools are giving you.
Online educational resources
Have fun with Artz+ and Sportz+ 
Our Easter arts, sports and music workshops for children with disabilities will now be available online. The Artz+ and Sportz+ workshops will be posted on Facebook every day at 2pm, find them @ArtzSportz
The workshops, which can be viewed at any time, offer everything from singalong fun with Mr Crow to ball game ideas using everyday items like rolled up socks. They will all be led by artists and coaches who specialise in working with children.  
Family Fund grants 
The Family Fund helps families across the UK who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 17 or under. Their grants can be used to buy things like sensory toys, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing, family breaks and computers and many other things. Grants are means tested, please find out more below.
Family Fund grants information
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