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Following the publication of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Green Paper in March 2011, the Government introduced the Children and Families Bill to Parliament in February 2013.
If it becomes law, this Bill will radically change how young people with autism access services and support. As it stands the key changes will be:
Giving parents or young people the right to a personal budget for their support.
Replacing Statements of Special Educational Needs with a single assessment process and an Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014.
Placing a requirement on health services and local authorities to jointly commission and plan services for children, young people and families.
Providing statutory protection comparable to those in Statements of Special Educational Needs for young people who are in education or training up to the age of 25 instead of ending at 16.
You can read the Children and Families Bill and Explanatory Notes on the UK Parliament website. There is also an accessible version of the Bill for young people created by the Department for Education called The Young Person's Guide to the Children and Families Bill.
Supporters of our Finished at School campaign have already succeeded in persuading the Minister for Children, Edward Timpson, to make several improvements to the Children and Families Bill. However, there is still long way to go to ensure that the rights children and families currently have are protected - and that they are extended for young people up to the age of 25.
Please email Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP today and ask him to further strengthen the Children and Families Bill for young people with autism. As demonstrated by our existing achievements, this is a very powerful way to get our message heard by Government.
Our report Our Lives in Your Hands (PDF 944KB) tells the stories of nine families of young people with autism and highlights how the reforms proposed in the Children and Families Bill will affect them. The report is designed to help policy makers better understand the lives of the children and young people whose decisions they will affect.
The Education Select Committee investigated the draft clauses and considered the evidence submitted by a wide range of individuals and organisations. They have also held oral evidence sessions in which the committee asked a series of witnesses, including some young people to share their thoughts. They submitted a report to the Government containing a number of recommendations that they felt would improve the Bill. The Government has now published its response to the Committee.
Now the Bill has had its first reading in Parliament, MPs and Members of the House of Lords will have a number of opportunities to debate the bill and suggest amendments before the Bill becomes law. You can find details of the Parliamentary process on the UK Parliament website. The Bill is currently being considered by the Children and Families Bill Committee. The Committee run until the end of April 2013.
Ambitious about Autism will be meeting with Parliamentarians and proving regular briefings on the sections of the Bill that will impact children and young people with autism. You can read our statement setting out our key concerns about the legislation or join the discussion on Talk about Autism.