What is Parent Participation?
Parent Participation is when parents and carers get involved in service planning and decision making so that services meet the needs of families with children & young people with disabilities and additional needs so resources are not wasted on services which parents and families do not take up.
Effective parent participation happens when parents have conversations with and work alongside professionals, in order to design, develop and improve services. Working with parents and carers helps professionals to understand what needs to happen to develop services that meet families’ needs and also helps parents and carers understand the complexity involved and the challenges faced by the professionals who have to bring about that change. Working together and sharing knowledge enables parents and professionals to find solutions that work.
There are three essential ingredients for successful parent participation
As parent participation develops, all three elements should be present and complement each other.
What is Parent Participation?
All parent carers need to be provided with relevant and timely information which helps them access the services and support they need to care for their children & young people with disabilities. The better informed parents are, the more confident they are and the more able to make informed choices for their children and young people
Consultation is a step up from simply giving information as it requires two way communication. Professionals may consult with parents on existing services, to seek their opinions on how services can be improved or how good practice could be replicated elsewhere. Another reason for consultation could be when changes to services are planned. In this instance as many parents as possible should be informed about proposed changes to a service and invited to give their ideas and raise any concerns about the proposals before final decisions are made.
Consultation is a two way communication. The people carrying out the consultation need to reply to parents’ responses, setting out clearly what has changed as a result of parent feedback and where it has not been possible to make changes, explaining why. If they fail to do this then parents will become disillusioned with the consultation process and will not be motivated to respond in future consultations
Parent participation is a significant step up and requires real commitment from parents and professionals. Informed and empowered parents are enabled to become actively involved in service planning and decision making. Professionals are given the opportunity to draw on the unique skills and expertise which parents can offer. This can make a significant difference to the effectiveness and appropriateness of services. Services which have been designed taking into account all perspectives, including parents, are inevitably more effective and resources are not wasted on services which parents and families do not take up or value.
Full parent carer participation should result in Co-Production. This is where all team members together agree outcomes, co-produce recommendations, plans, actions and materials as a collective. Co-production has been central to the work of the SEN Pathfinders that are trialling the Special Educational Needs Reforms. Further information on coproduction is available on the links below; http://www.sendpathfinder.co.uk/infopacks/
On the 28th -30th March, Europe’s biggest event dedicated to the care, rehabilitation and lifestyle of people with a disability or impairment returns to the Birmingham NEC for three days of innovation, exploration and motivation. Visitors can expect a strong educational focus and a dedicated children and young people zone including a sensory demo area. To register for your free ticket, go to http://www.naidex.co.uk
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We would like to thank all the Parent Carer Volunteers that were involved in the development of this site.
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