Changes to services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families during the Covid-19 health situation

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team, Specialist Community disability Service (SCDS) and Brighton and Hove Inclusion Support Service (BHISS) are aware how unsettling the current situation is with the Covid-19 virus. Whilst some changes have had to be made to the ways in which we work, these teams are committed to continuing together to continue to offer high quality service to help children and young people with SEND together with their families.

The Government advice about Coronavirus (Covid 19) is that council staff must work from home if possible, to help reduce the spread of the virus. We will continue to work with schools and others to support vulnerable children and young people and children of key workers.

Read the recent government updates including:

For information about the way in which our teams are currently working, you can see updates by clicking on the service's name in the menu on the left hand side of this page.

Helpful information for families

Amaze has resources for families including:

  • FAQs for all parents (UK)
  • FAQs parents in Brighton and Hove
  • Community Help Postcard to help vulnerable SEND families during Covid-19

Public Health England have produced guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. This includes key actions they can take to support their child or young person’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic such as supporting safe ways to connect with friends. It also emphasises the importance of children continuing to remain fit and active and, wherever possible, having the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the Chief Medical Officers

Reaching Families, a West Sussex charity supporting families of children with SEND, has produced a lovely 6 minute animation called Coronavirus and the new normal for children and young people.  The film is designed as a tool to help parents and teachers explain the lockdown and our current circumstances – including returning to school/work, stresses at home and expressing feelings.

Hackney’s Local Offer has resources such as:

  • social stories for children and young people with Autism about coronavirus
  • calendar of support structure at home
  • daily planner of support structure at home

The information on these pages explains how each of these teams are working during this time.

Government Minister's letters

Read Government Minister Vicky Ford’s open letters to the SEND community dated 30th May 2020 and  24th March 2020.

A recent letter to education leaders from the Secretary of State for Education.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team

SEN Casework Officers and SEN Casework Managers will be in contact with parent/carers, schools and other professionals.

All SEN staff are contactable by phone and email. To make sure the council’s computer system continues to work, staff have to take turns to use it for three hours at a time. We can access work email outside the council system and have Skype for Business for meetings.

Details of how we will continue with our essential work:

SEN Panel

We will continue to run a SEN Panel meeting by video meeting every week. This will decide if to agree requests for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. It will also decide whether to issue an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan after an assessment.

EHC Needs Assessments

We will prioritise completing EHC needs assessment and producing EHC plans. We will continue to work to legal deadlines where possible.

Professionals will continue to provide advice towards EHC needs assessments. They will do this using their knowledge of the child or young person. They will also speak with other professionals about the children and young people. Their reports will be sent by email.

Co-production of EHC Plans

We will not be able to have co-production meetings. Instead a SEN Casework Officer will write a draft plan. The SEN Panel will look at the draft plans and decide whether a child or young person should have an EHC plan. Casework Officers will send a draft plan by email to families, schools and advice givers. We will contact the family by phone or Skype to explain the contents of the plan. They will also ask families for their views and for any amendments they would like to see. Families can also email their comments to us.

School staff and professionals will provide their views by phone or email. We will consider all amendments requested. We will then issue a final EHC plan in the usual way.

Annual Review meetings

Schools may need to postpone annual review meetings due to take place in the summer term. We support schools holding a review by virtual meetings by telephone or video. Examples of video applications are Skype, Zoom or Facetime.

Helpful information for families

Amaze has resources for families including:

  • FAQs for all parents (UK)
  • FAQs parents in Brighton and Hove
  • Community Help Postcard to help vulnerable SEND families during Covid-19

Hackney’s Local Offer has resources such as:

  • Social stories for children and young people with Autism about coronavirus
  • Calendar of support structure at home
  • Daily planner of support structure at home

Thank you for your help, support and understanding at this difficult time.

Please contact us you have any questions:

Specialist Community Disability Service (SCDS)

Due to the current Covid-19 virus health pandemic, the SCDS will be working in different ways. Instead of working from the main SCDS office, we are working from our homes or other places. We will continue to provide you with as normal service as possible. This means:

  • your allocated social worker will continue to contact you by phone to provide updates and to check in with how you and your family / carers are doing
  • for those without an allocated worker, Intake duty system continues to offer support and advice
  • visits and meetings will be conducted virtually where possible. This will be through Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime
  • should there be a child protection or adult safeguarding concern, we may need to conduct a home visit. This will only be done in serious circumstances and in a planned and safe way taking in to account the latest government advice regarding Covid-19
  • respite packages from Tudor House, Drove Road will continue as normal. Should there be alterations to any respite package due to Covid-19, parents/carers will be informed
  • we are continuing to monitor direct payments. Advice is still available from People Plus
  • if you are struggling to maintain your current Direct Payments package, for example your PA may not be available, please contact your Social Worker or Early Help Worker. It may be possible to use your Direct Payments in a different way in the short term
  • it is vital that you contact your worker before making any changes to how you use your Direct Payments package

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone and we will continue to do our best to offer the same service to you. We are sorry for any delay in our response. If Government advice about Covid-19 changes, we may need to change how our service works. This page will be updated if there is new advice or if there is a change to the way our service works.

SCDS Contact details

Please try and contact your allocated Social Worker or Social Work Resource Officer. If you cannot contact them and are in need, please contact the office number or intake email address and ask to speak with the Intake Worker

Brighton and Hove Inclusion Support Service (BHISS)

Everyone at the Brighton & Hove Inclusion Support Service sends our best wishes to all of our children and young people with emotional mental health and wellbeing needs (EMHWB) and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families at what is a hugely uncertain and difficult time.

We have joined our early years settings/schools/colleges, health and social care colleagues and our parent and carer organisations to help us stay connected and continue providing our services for our children and young people and families during the Covid-19 pandemic, and look at ways we will keep you updated with any further information.

Contact details


Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we have made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all coffee mornings, training events and workshops until further notice.

We continue to provide specialist assessments to inform education health and care (EHC) needs assessments, and those to inform teaching and wellbeing interventions.

Our educational psychologists, mental health workers, specialist teachers and practitioners, including our family support workers are making direct contact with families using the following methods:

  • Telephone calls (with parent/carers, young people, school staff)
  • Email (resources; letters and reports)
  • Skype meetings (individual and group consultation sessions and assessments with school staff, parent/carers, young people)
  • Zoom (for teaching sessions; online group meetings)

BHISS SEMH Practitioners continue to be available through schools. We are looking at establishing three-way Face-time/Skype meetings with parents and schools if needs arise.

We are sending information about online resources, such as published materials and video clips to help support you to help explain to your child what Covid-19 is, ideas on how to structure your time to help you and your child during home-schooling sessions, also some practical and fun activities.

BHISS Support for mental health and wellbeing

BHISS provides the Schools Wellbeing Service and works closely with Specialist CAMHS and Community Wellbeing Service.

As there is currently reduced access through schools, a new shared mailbox for the BHISS Schools Wellbeing Service is now available so that parent/carers and professionals can make an enquiry and seek advice from a Primary Mental Health Worker:

We look forward to working with you; to support Brighton & Hove's children and young people with individual needs to achieve the best they can and to feel purposefully involved and supported during this unusual time.


NHS Child Development Services, Brighton and Hove

The following information explains how the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is affecting services from Child Development Services at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

We are aware that this is a challenging time for children and their families. We want to reassure you that we are putting plans in place to ensure that families who need ongoing care continue to receive it.

We are adapting our appointments system in line with national guidelines:

  • We are offering support by telephone to families for urgent and high priority issues. We are not offering face to face appointments unless absolutely necessary. This is to protect you and other people, as well as our staff.
  • Most appointments will take place by telephone or video call if possible. We will contact you before your appointment to explain this. This will avoid non-essential travel.
  • If your child needs a face to face appointment, we will contact you by telephone before your appointment. We will ask some questions about you and your family’s health and to confirm your appointment.
  • We will continue to accept new referrals if these meet the referral criteria. New referrals will be added to our waiting list for initial contact.
  • All face to face workshops and training sessions are currently postponed.
  • We will continue to contribute to Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) if possible. We may need to use information available in health records to do so.
  • We are able to offer telephone advice to respond to urgent queries and provide signposting. This is also available for the SEN team, schools and other professionals to access about children known to our services. Please email or use the telephone numbers below to contact the service required.

If government advice about Covid-19 changes, we may need to make other changes to our services. We advise service users to continue to check the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust website for information about our services. You can also keep up to date on information on Covid-19 on GOV.UK.

Child Development Services contact details


Phone: 01273 265 780


Community Paediatrics

Phone: 01273 265 780


Occupational Therapy

Phone: 01273 265 806



Phone: 01273 265 763        


Specialist Nursing

Phone: 01273 242 061


Speech and Language Therapy

Phone 01273 242 079 Please contact by phone, email contact is not available


Phone: 01273 242 072


Community health services

A letter has been issued by NHS England which explains the planned restoration of community health services for children and young people.

 • SEND community services must be prioritised for CYP 0–25 with an EHCP in place or going through an assessment for one.

• CCG, providers and local authorities work together to risk assess CYP.

• The Coronavirus Act requires reasonable endeavours to be made to ensure the provision in an EHC plan.

Key SEND services are:

  • Therapies: speech and language therapy/OT/physio
  • community paediatrics
  • community children’s nursing and special school nursing

The NHS has also published further guidance on restarting community health services for children and young people

Covid-19: open letter to Parents/Carers of children and young people with SEND

More information about services and support at this time

The council's Coronavirus (Covid-19) help and advice pages provide the latest updates to council services, advice for residents and businesses and links to Public Health England and World Health Organisation for specific health advice.

The Amaze website also has some information, advice and support on issues relating to SEN and Coronavirus (Covid 19).

GOV.UK has all the latest information and advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19).