Jane Brooke-Hughes 0


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Hertfordshire County Council gives each DSPL area a ‘pot of money’, and the management of each DSPL (Delivering Special Provision Locally) decide how that is best spent in their area for children with high end needs. Three of the Hertfordshire DSPL areas (3, 4 and 7) had used some of this money to contract Autism FSWs. (The March 2018 end date mentioned in the petition relates to my area, DSPL7.) It is believed that other DSPL areas were considering contracting Autism FSW too.

However, HCC’s key decision affecting Autism FSWs is not about reducing funding. What HCC has specifically stated is that Autism FSWs do not fit with strategic criteria, so DSPL areas should not allocate funding to them. How on earth has HCC reached this conclusion?

We feel that our three HF ASD children have been more supported in the past six months by our Autism FSW, than in the six years prior, since my oldest was diagnosed. (I am not counting the support for our children by a number of committed school teachers/TAs, or through several very helpful SEND charities. The very fact that these charities now exist in such numbers shows how big a gap there is between what is needed and what is being provided by those who should be providing it.)

I think the reason an Autism FSW is so well-suited to helping to meet the needs of high end children on the Autism Spectrum, is because the help they can offer, or to which they can facilitate access, can cover all areas of need in relation to the well-being of the child; it is not limited to solely home, health, etc.

Perhaps the first question we should be asking HCC Children’s Services, is what exactly are their strategic criteria for meeting the needs of high end needs children, for most of whom the primary difficulty arises from ASD. And the second question is: how exactly are Autism FSWs not a strategic use of DSPL funds?

Please sign if you haven’t already…. This service should not be removed. Instead, it should be allowed to be rolled out further, to each DSPL area which decides it is a worthwhile use of their funds.

Thank you!


Hertfordshire Local Authority has decided that it will not fund Autism Family Support Workers from March 2018. This is a huge blow to families of children with autism. In existence for less than a year, Autism Family Support is already a hugely successful service, with long waiting lists (over 30 families in my DSPL area alone) and valued highly by families it has supported.

The support Autism FSWs can offer spans both home and school life. In my experience, it is manned by caring people who appreciate what life can be like for children with autism and their families, and want to make a real difference. They understand the difficulties, and they can help in multiple ways.

It is not just families who are impacted. Autism FSWs also help to lighten the workload of the professional services to which they link their supported families. Furthermore, families not under the service can still access help and advice through fortnightly Autism Family Support coffee mornings – but these will also stop when the Autism FSWs go. They have been encouraged to look for new jobs; a number have already left.

Hertfordshire LA, we respectfully request that you do not withdraw funding for Autism Family Support Workers.

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