Inclusion Champions FAQ

Many Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) are new to working with children/young people and their families, or around education, and have questions about it. Here are some answers to common concerns.

Q: If we join Inclusion Champions, what activities might we be involved in?

A: Depending on funding members may attend meetings or training workshops around:

  • Enabling families of disabled children to understand the right to inclusive education
  • Helping schools to understand inclusive education and support disabled children and young people in their schools.
  • Helping disabled young people understand who they are as disabled people and how they can campaign for their right to be included in education and other activities
  • Setting up local groups of young disabled people to campaign for change in how services are designed and delivered to them.

Ultimately ALLFIE’s vision is that these activities will take place in member organisations and we will only be there to help organise and deliver them if needed.

Q: Why is it important for DPOs to get involved in providing support/services for Disabled children and young people and their families?

A: it is important for DPOs to get involved in providing support and services for the following reasons:

  • DPOs have the unique selling point of being run and managed by Disabled people who understand what discrimination and segregation mean in reality
  • DPOs understand the value of using the social model of disability and independent living as the basis of their service delivery and can use this experience from their work with Disabled adults to influence how services are delivered to Disabled children/young people and their families
  • We also know when Disabled young people come into contact with empowered Disabled people who work for DPOs they have a sense of what can be achieved and their aspirations are further raised

Q: As a DPO we have never provided services to Disabled children and young people and their families before – what services could we think about providing?

A: DPOs can provide support to Disabled young people and their families to complete their Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Currently some organisations are delivering contracts funded by the DfE to support families and young people moving from the old system of Statements to the new system of EHC support plans under the Children and Families Act 2014. When the funding cycle ends in 2018 it is anticipated that this service will still be needed and DPOs can incorporate this service and charge just like their current direct payment and advocacy offers.

Other services we can deliver as DPOs that involve Disabled children/young Disabled people and families are:

  • Training to support young Disabled people find solutions to stop isolation, exclusion and marginalisation
  • Helping families to form networks that support each other in their journey to choose inclusive education
  • Information and training for schools and education providers on how they can make their services more accessible to Disabled people
  • Youth leadership development skills
  • Direct payments – under the CFA parents/families and young Disabled people can ask for personal budgets
  • Children’s rights advocacy
  • Volunteering and skills development

Q: How can ALLFIE support DPOs to make connections with/provide services to Disabled children and young people and their families?

A: ALLFIE can support DPOs to make connections with Disabled children, young people and their families in several ways…

  1. Using our experience working with young Disabled people on projects we have co-produced with them, for example the VIPER project, which stands for Voice, Inclusion, Participation and Empowerment Research. VIPER project was a three year research project led by ALLFIE that explored the most effective ways of enabling the participation of Disabled children and young people in the development of services in England.
  2. Upskill DPOs with training and other resources on how to engage and recruit young Disabled people.
  3. Facilitate training on working with parents/families and what being an ally to a DPO involves. ALLFIE and an ally parent trainer have developed a training package that focuses on parents as allies to their Disabled children/young people as well as working with DPOs. The training is based on the social model of disability and independent living.

We have already delivered training to DPOs and received very positive feedback from participants. For example a parent responded to our evaluation question, “What helped my learning/development?” by stating “Understanding more about my son and myself”. Another parent from the same training responded to the same question: “An understanding of social model”.

Q: Is there funding available for children and families work and how can we go about finding it?

A: There is funding available for children and families work. There are many trust funds and grants available but DPOs will need to demonstrate a track record and history of successfully delivering work in the children and families sector. A search on the fundraising page on the Inclusion London website can be a first step in looking for funding and we also know from sites like Contracts Finder or London Tenders Portal that tenders are often advertised on contract portals for work involving children and families.

One of the most popular methods of funding projects now is consortia work and organisations co-producing projects together makes it a bit easier to raise funds for work involving Disabled children/young people and families, ALLFIE will always be there to supply technical information and training to support DPOs to become active in the sector.

Q: How do we manage safeguarding issues when working with children and families?

A: We recognise that safeguarding is very critical for any organisation wanting to work with children and families and we know many DPOs may be reluctant to work with children and young people because they don’t feel they know enough about safeguarding.

However there is lots of training out there for any DPO that is interested in working with children and their families – local authorities often have information about training days. The same is true for the big children’s services providers – NCB, NSPCC, Triangle.

Don’t let concerns about lack of safeguarding knowledge stop your organisation getting involved. Many DPOs are already familiar with the term working with adults in social care, managing risk and confidentiality so it shouldn’t be a totally new area.

Q: How do you manage potential conflict of aspirations between child and parent/carer on achieving inclusion, transition and other outcomes?

A: We have quite a lot of experience working with parents at ALLFIE. We know most parents are interested in the wellbeing of their children and working towards what they think are their best interests. Many will make choices for their children without being given the full picture, and the information parents and their children receive is based more on what agencies and other professionals consider the best option for Disabled children. We often find that when parents engage with the Social Model of Disability, true independent living principles, inclusive education and meeting other parents who understand and have made decisions based on these principles and seen positive outcomes they better understand what their roles are as allies to their children/young people. This ultimately reduces tension and conflicts between them and their child/young person. Our training co-delivered by an ally parent trainer is also suitable to highlight this issue and help parents navigate through this very sensitive issue. You may also want to note that according to the SEN Code of practice which is the legal guide on the Children and Family Act 2014 where there is a conflict of views between a young person (16 +) and a parent/carer the views of the young person prevails unless they lack capacity under the Mental Capacity Act.

Q: We are a DPO and just starting working with parents and Disabled children and young people, but do not have the expertise to give legal advice on education. If we have young Disabled people or parents making enquiries about their rights in education who or which organisation can we signpost or direct them to?

A: The law around education like most areas of law is quite complex and we would not advise any DPO to offer legal advice without a qualified professional (eg a solicitor) in the field of education. Although we can listen, empathise, offer a supportive shoulder and show understanding, despite ALLFIE’s long history working in the education sector, we do not offer young people or parents legal advice on their rights in education. We usually signpost them to specialist legal advice organisations like IPSEA or you may also want to signpost them to the Civil Legal Advice scheme.

Q: What are the benefits for Disabled children and young people of being included and participating in mainstream life (education, employment, decision making, and leisure)?

A: The benefit of inclusion and participation in mainstream life is first to society. Society benefits when Disabled children and young people are included because every group brings unique experiences, skills and talents to enrich each other and increase learning and sharing. A society that values difference and promotes equality becomes more cohesive and is richer for it. Most importantly however a society that includes everyone is demonstrating that it values Disabled children and young people’s human rights and recognises that everyone regardless of impairment, age, ethnicity, religion (or non-religious),race, gender, sexuality are equal and should be treated the same.

Benefits to Disabled children and young people are:

  • helps them become more comfortable in their identities as Disabled people
  • enhances their social skills
  • reduces isolation
  • gives them real skills to navigate life as adults
  • make connections with their non-disabled peers
  • for those who can work increase their chances in getting work and make them active equal citizens enjoying the same human rights as their non-disabled peers (right to choose, one of the pillars of independent living)

“Mainstream schools with additionally resourced provision are particularly successful in achieving high outcomes for pupils academically, socially and personally. In the best example, resourced mainstream provision was used as a vehicle for improvement throughout the school.” OFSTED ‘Inclusion: does it matter where pupils are taught?’