Every local authority in England has an Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS). These services give support around special educational needs and disability for children, young people and parents in their local area. They provide free impartial, confidential and accurate information, advice and support about education, health and social care. They aim to help people become more independent and able to advocate for themselves or their child.
In June 2018, the services changed to become part of an Information, Advice and Support Programme – a new national government initiative, led by a team at the Council for Disabled Children on behalf of the Department for Education. The programme is a partnership arrangement that brings together the Information, Advice and Support Network, a helpline’ provided by Contact, the Independent Support programme and IPSEA who provide staff and volunteer training.
As part of the development of IASS a new set of minimum standards have been created. These are the things that every service must offer and achieve or be working towards. Every service must:
- be designed and commissioned with children, young people and parents
- provide an all year-round flexible service which is open during normal office hours and includes a direct helpline with 24-hour answer machine, call back and signposting service
- work with local partners, including local parent and young people forums to inform and influence policy and practice in the local area
- provide impartial information, advice and support (IAS) on the full range of education, health and social care as defined in the SEND Code of Practice
- offer support in a range of ways which includes face to face, a telephone helpline, email, website and social media
- provide advocacy support for individual children, young people, and parents that empowers them to express their views and wishes
- offer training to local education, health and social care professionals, children, young people and parents to increase knowledge of SEND law, guidance, local policy, issues and participation
- make sure all staff and volunteers have specific legal training
- request feedback from service users and others and uses this to further develop the work and practices of the service.
If you’d like to find out more about the minimum standards or changes to national services have a look at the Council for Disabled Children’s web pages about the IAS Programme.