Somerset County Council and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group has worked with Somerset Parent Carer Forum to answer some of the most common questions you have been asking.

Please note that the current situation is changing rapidly and we will try to keep this information up to date as new government advice is published.

My child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) do I have to send them to school?
The government advice is that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be. This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so. For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.

What do I need to do if my child is at home?
Each family circumstance will be different. Some children and young people may be finding this period difficult due to the changes in their routine. The main priority for families is to support their children and young people manage any anxiety they may be feeling. Schools will have sent work to be completed and it would be helpful if they are able to do this to minimise the impact on their learning, but we know not all families will be able to do this. Please ensure during this time that you follow the advice on Social Distancing which can be found here.

I am concerned that we are not going to be able to manage. What shall I do if it gets too much?
If you find that you are struggling to cope, then please seek help. Sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to, this could be a family member, friend or there are a variety of support lines which might be able to help. Please use this website or the Somerset County Council website to find out more. If you feel you need more help please ring Somerset County Council on 0300 123 2224 or their dedicated COVID helpline on 0300 790 6275.

I am in receipt of direct payments for respite but cannot use this due to Coronavirus, what can I do?
If you normally receive direct payments, access a support service or overnight respite you will be contacted directly to discuss options. If you have not heard anything by 3 April then please contact Somerset County Council on 0300 123 2224.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments – Advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

My child normally has free school meals, how do I access these while my child is at home?
The government has provided advice for schools on how to do this, you can read more here. If you are in receipt of free school meals, please contact your school to find out the arrangements that have been made. If your school is closed and they are not in contact with you, please ring Somerset County Council on 0300 123 2224.

I make payments towards my child/young person’s travel to school or college, will I still be expected to pay this even though they cannot attend due to the setting being closed?

  • County Ticket (over 16 transport): We have taken the difficult decision to suspend the 2020/21 County Ticket scheme due to the on-going impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of potential social distancing measures and possible changes to the level of college attendance required from September 2020, an annual pre-paid ticket is not the most viable option.
    You can read more here
  • School Transport Pay Seats: Direct Debits have been suspended, termly invoices have not been sent for the Summer term and Annual payers will be refunded for the official school closure days.

You can find out more about school transport on the following Somerset County Council pages.

School transport
School transport and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Will my personal travel plan payments be stopped/adjusted while the school is closed?
Personal Travel Payments have not been suspended at the moment so this will continue. This will be reviewed subject to further government measures.

What should I do if my child or I become ill and I think it is Coronavirus?
Please follow the guidance from NHS England which can be found here.

I have applied for an EHC assessment what will happen now?
Somerset County Council are continuing to follow the statutory process as much as they can, but it is anticipated that this will change. There has been an open letter sent to all young people and families which highlights that there will be changes to some of the legislation relating to statutory EHC assessments. We will update this guidance once this happens.

My child/young person does not have an EHCP but are in receipt of high needs funding, will we be able to access any additional support during the Coronavirus issues?
Not at present. Somerset County Council are working with those young people who are defined as part of a vulnerable group and those are Children with EHC plans or those with a Social Worker.

Should I attend my child or young person planned health appointments as normal?
You will be contacted to let you know if your appointment has to be cancelled. If you are unwell or have been in contact with someone who has become unwell, please do not attend without contacting them beforehand.

For information and advice, read Somerset County Council’s pages on coronavirus or phone the dedicated helpline