Independent advice and support

There are many different services which offer information, advice and support about any issue related to special educational needs and disability including:

  • Local policy and practice
  • Educational support
  • Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans
  • Personal budgets and personalisation
  • Disagreement resolution / mediation

These services can give practical, factual and impartial information advice and support to enable parents/carers and young people to participate fully in decisions about education, health and social care. This may include:

  • Advice and support by telephone or email
  • Individual casework which may include support with meetings
  • Help with writing letters
  • Help with understanding and interpreting information provided
  • Information about other services or sources of support locally or nationally
  • Advice through parent / carer support groups
Support for Parents and or Carers

Parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) sometimes need additional support and advice.  This might be for themselves, or to help them to get the best support they can for their children and young people.

There are a number of dedicated support groups and agencies that parents and carers can go to for help, support and guidance, including the organisations below:

Autism Bedfordshire

Help break down the barriers to social participation for autistic people and their families by providing places where they can go and feel comfortable, accepted and not judged by society.

Central Bedfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)

Offers a free confidential support service for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Carers in Bedfordshire

Supports all types of carers in Bedfordshire – whatever your age or who you look after because of their disability or condition. 

Home Start Parent Mentoring Service

Volunteer Parent Mentors who have themselves got experience with children with SEND, offer one to one support for a period of time (usually six weeks) to other parents with children with additional needs.

SNAP Parent Carer Forum

As parents of children and young people with SEND, we bring a real-life perspective and experience to the planning and development of the services that our families use. We constructively challenge decisions that are taken by the Local Authority and Health Authority about the future planning of services.

Contact for families with disabled children

Has advice and information about any concern a family might have about raising a child with additional needs. 

Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA)

IPSEA offers free and independent advice on local authorities (LA) legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs. Independent advice and information on special needs education, based on the law.


Offer a free, friendly, independent and confidential telephone helpline for parents and others looking for information and advice on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

There are also more organisations that offer support for parents and carers 

Support for Military Families

Parents serving in HM Armed Forces can also access the Children's Education Advisory Service, an information, advice and support service established specifically for Service parents. It covers any issue relating to their children’s education, including special educational needs. 

Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunals

Wherever possible, we and our health partners will try and resolve issues or areas of disagreement by meeting and talking with those involved in supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

This includes not only parents and carers, but also children and young people themselves. However, we accept that sometimes it isn’t possible to reach a resolution without the help of a third party. 

More Information on Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunals

Making a complaint about SEND services

We will always aim to resolve any concerns raised by parents/carers or young people and would encourage you to speak to the service you are working with to discuss any issues. However, if you feel that the quality or standard of service provided to you has fallen short and you wish to raise a complaint this guide will help to explain the process.

Find out more about making a complaint.

SEND Guidance from the Government

The Department for Education has produced a Parents Guide to the Special Educational Needs and Disability legislation.

They have also produced a Young Person's Guide to the Children and Families Act 2014.

These documents can be viewed below.

Parental guide

Young persons guide 

Concerns about health treatment

Get Your Rights explains how to get the most out of the NHS and your rights when making decisions and choices about healthcare.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire is the independent champion for people using local health and social care services. Its team listens to what people like about services and what could be improved and share those views with those with the power to make change happen.

Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS)

What is PALS ?

PALS can help when you have concerns about the treatment and care you have received. PALS provides confidential advice and will help to resolve problems or issues that you have about the services.

More information on the NHS website.

PALS for NHS services in our area

To find PALS services for other NHS providers search the NHS Choices website.

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