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Projects worth over £42 million to help raise educational standards, improve services and provide practical support to disadvantaged families and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have had their funding extended, according to a UK Government report.

On 10 February, the government announced it will re-award current contracts and grants which enable schools, colleges, families and local authorities to support thousands of children with SEND.

These will include extending an advice helpline and increased funding for local parent carer forums, support to improve how councils provide local services and improved training for education staff in working with children and young people with specific needs such as autism.

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The multi-million-pound package of support includes more than £27 million for the Family Fund, which supports low-income parents raising children with serious illnesses or disabilities with the cost of equipment, goods or services – from washing machines and fridges to sensory and educational equipment that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

The department has also launched a consultation with proposed changes to the funding formula that will calculate allocations of high needs funding in 2022-2023, to ensure funding is directed where it is needed most.

Alongside this, work on the government’s review of the SEND system continues to help make sure children and families with the most complex needs are supported throughout school and into adulthood.

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said that the investment of over £42 million will provide practical support, advice or useful equipment when it is needed now more than ever.

She said: “It adds to the huge increase in high needs funding we are providing and the catch-up funding we’re making available to help tackle the impact of the pandemic. This, plus our ongoing SEND review, will help make sure children and young people with additional needs are supported not just today but throughout their education.”

The investment includes providing up to £17,500 for each Parent Carer Forum – an increase of £2,500 compared to 2020-2021 – and the continued provision of a national helpline to provide advice for families.

Funding has been extended for organisations including the Council for Disabled Children, Contact, Kids, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, Whole School SEND, the Autism Education Trust, the Education Training Foundation and Family Fund putting children and families at the heart of decisions.

This support is alongside a major investment in education for children and young people with the most complex needs, including an additional £730 million into high needs from 2021-2022, coming on top of the additional £780 million in 2020-2021, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, in just two years.

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, said: “This funding announcement underlines the government’s continuing commitment to children with SEND after a difficult year for these children, their families and the services which support them . We look forward to the next year, as we work towards improvements in services and the publication of the SEND review.”

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