Support for You and Your Family
There are many ways in East Sussex for families of children and young people with SEND to receive additional support. Support might come from SEND-specific services or more general support for families.
On this page you will find descriptions of some of the support that is available.
Meeting Other Parents and Carers
Sometimes, the best support for parents and carers of children with SEND will come from peers. This might be parents and carers with children the same age as yours, or, parents and carers whose children are now older and they have some experience of what you might be going through.
East Sussex Parent Carer Forum
East Sussex Parent Carer Forum (ESPCF) is a forum for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in East Sussex:
Amaze are a local charity who run Face 2 Face Befriending, which is a peer support service offering families support around the time of their child's SEND diagnosis or when facing new challenges:
East Sussex Local Offer directory on 1Space
Part of the East Sussex Local Offer includes the directory, on East Sussex 1Space. The directory includes numerous services, charities and community groups that can offer support in meeting other parents and carers:
Sibling Wellbeing (Sibs)
The ISEND Sibling Service (Sibs) support children aged 6 to 17 who have a brother or sister with a disability.
The service is for brothers and sisters of disabled children who do not:
- have their own moderate to severe Special Educational Needs (SEN), or
- attend Social, Emotional and Mental Health school or unit (SEMH).
Contact the ISEND Sibling Service for more information.
Please note: there is a national charity that support brothers and sisters, which is also called Sibs. These two services are not linked. The national charity provide information, advice and guidance:
Practical Support, Advice and Guidance
Families of children with SEND sometimes need practical support. This might include help around benefits, work, housing, or adaptations to the home.
Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS:
CLASS+ works across East Sussex to support families/carers of Autistic children and young people. Their aim is to provide guidance and training that enables families/carers to build their understanding of the strengths and challenges faced by Autistic children and young people and to develop greater confidence in how to support them. The team is part of the CLASS service:
Open for Parents
Open for Parents is a website that offers advice and guidance on parenting in East Sussex:
Short Breaks and Respite
Short breaks, also known as respite, are a range of services that support children, young people and their families. These allow children and young people some time away from their families, while enjoying new experiences.
Find out more by visiting our page on short breaks.
The short breaks page also explains the process for providers on how they can apply for a short breaks grant.
Parent and Carer Assessments
Parent and carers of disabled children up to 18 can apply for an assessment which looks at:
- how caring affects your life, including your health and wellbeing
- difficulties you’re experiencing
- what you would like to change about your caring role?
After an assessment the local authority will give you information about other services and ideas to support you in your caring role.
Eligibility for Applying
You can have a parent carer assessment if you:
- care for a disabled child; and
- have parental responsibility for the child
- the child has multiple and complex needs
- you also care for at least one other person, like an elderly parent
To East Sussex County Council website has web pages outlining what multiple and complex needs mean, including what levels 3 and 4 look like on the Continuum of Need:
How to Apply
To enquire about a parent carers assessment you can:
- Contact the Customer Relations Team in Children's Services
- Speak to any service currently supporting your family
Parent carers can also apply using the same form as carer’s looking after adults:
Health and Wellbeing for Adults
Parents and carers of children with SEND sometimes need wellbeing or mental health support themselves. This support could come from self-care routines, peers (see our section Meeting Other Parents and Carers), or professional counselling. You could be seeking support because you need general wellbeing support or because you need to talk a specific thing through.
It is important to try to recognise early when you need support and seek it out.
Please note: If you are struggling to cope then you may need to seek out immediate support. You can either make an emergency call to your GP or use the NHS website to find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline in England.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
CAMHS provide specialist NHS services and support to children and young people up to the age of 18, and their families and carers who are experiencing difficulties with their emotional, psychological and mental health. They have teams of staff across Sussex and in the community who can help you and your family to get the support that you need:
The CAMHS website provides a wide range of information, advice, resources and more, including:
- Help & Support pages for children, young people, families and carers
- Resources to help you better understand and take care of your own mental health and emotional wellbeing
- Recipes 4 Wellbeing that might help support a young person experiencing difficulties with their mental wellbeing
Self-care means taking small actions that can have a positive impact on your health. This can be important for parents and carers as it can fit into busy routines sometimes more easily than counselling sessions or similar.
There are many great self care guides available. Parents and carers in East Sussex who we have consulted have recommended the following web pages:
Counselling is a really good way for parents and carers to talk through the things that they find challenging. Counselling can either be:
- Via a health referral from your GP: your GP can refer you to a local NHS therapeutic service, though this route can sometimes have a long waiting list. If you are are very worried about your mental health this would be the right route to take.
- Private counselling: this would be counselling you find and pay for yourself. You can search for counsellors local to you on google or use one of the many counselling directories, such as Psychology today, British Association of Counselling Therapists.
- Provided by a charity or community organisation: this can be free or low cost, though sometimes is harder to find.
Initially, we recommend speaking to Relate, who offer counselling both online and from various centres across East Sussex:
East Sussex Local Offer directory on 1Space
Part of the East Sussex Local Offer includes the directory, on East Sussex 1Space. The directory includes numerous services, charities and community groups that offer health and wellbeing support for children, young people, parents and carers:
Health and Wellbeing for Children and Young People
The East Sussex Local Offer has a specific page dedicated to children and young people's wellbeing, Wellbeing and Mental Health.
Many parents and carers find it fulfilling to contribute to the development of services for children and young people with SEND.
Visit our Have Your Say page to find out how you can get involved.
Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms
Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.