Our main aims are to give parents the skills and knowledge to feel confident managing meetings and relationships, and to understand what they need to do and when. We do that by giving you clear, straightforward information about your options. Sometimes it’s helpful to do that by face to face support.
We can also help you to stand back from a situation and think more broadly, or help you to focus on what’s important for you and your child. By talking to us about how to prepare for a meeting, for example, you should feel more confident about what to say and what to prioritise. We can often help you to do this do this by phone and email.
But sometimes, having someone to help you in person can make a big difference. It can be helpful to have someone in a meeting with you, supporting you to raise issues and ask questions. Many parents can feel overwhelmed and confused with paperwork too, or struggle to make sense of things when there are lots of people involved. Meeting face to face can help you to manage that. So, when we are able to, Devon Information Advice and Support (DIAS) Officers and volunteers give support in person to parents, carers and young people.
“I can’t thank you enough for the support you gave me. That meeting was the first one that I have walked away from and felt truly happy with, so once again I can’t thank you enough.”
What kind of face to face support can we give?
DIAS Officers and volunteers give face to face support in a number of ways:
- Helping you to gather your views and wishes, or your child’s, for school plans, Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments, plans and reviews.
- Helping you understand reports, assessments and paperwork.
- Working alongside you in meetings with the staff at your child’s nursery, school or college or other professionals (for example, at Team Around the Child or Family meetings). A DIAS Officer or volunteer will usually meet you beforehand, to help you decide what you want from the meeting and what you want to discuss. They can take notes, help you to ask questions and challenge things too. After the meeting you’ll get a copy of the notes from the meeting, with information about anything that was agreed.
- Supporting you to present your case at a mediation meeting or tribunal, for example if you’re challenging the Local Authorities decision about assessing for an EHC plan, or issuing one.
What we are able to do, and when, is always influenced by how busy the service is. If we have capacity to come to meetings we will always do our best to, but we won’t always be able to be there. If we can’t be there, we can still help you to prepare well beforehand.
DIAS has a small team of volunteers who work under the supervision of DIAS Officers to support parents, carers, children and young people. Volunteers follow the same confidentiality rules as DIAS officers and are impartial too.
All of our volunteers are trained in special educational needs and disability (SEND) and are fully Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked. This means a check has been done to make sure they can work with vulnerable groups, such as young people.
Some of our volunteers have also been trained to work directly with young people to provide advice and support. Volunteers in this role support young people in the decision-making process, and work with them to reach the goals they want to achieve.
“The DIAS volunteer was absolutely wonderful, teasing the paperwork from me and putting it in order! My son found it helpful to think of ways in which he could contribute and reflect on how he might manage college. This together with your ongoing support has taken much burden and worry off my shoulders. I could never have got this far without the dedicated support from DIAS….”
Page last updated: January 2018
Page due for review: January 2019