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OCC Social Services response and update regarding supporting Autistic children and their families

This response comes from Oxfordshire Children’s Services regarding feedback shared on the 2nd December 2021. This feedback was posted in the “Oxfordshire SEND room” on Facebook (a peer support group for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND living or accessing services in Oxfordshire)

On the 2nd December we received some parental feedback regarding the services the council provides to autistic children and their families/carers. Before we respond to the feedback, we want to thank everyone for the time they took providing the feedback/their individual experiences. We are grateful for the honesty and bravery you have shown in sharing your experiences of our services and assure you that your contributions have been read and will be used to improve the services we are providing to children and their families.

We also want to apologise for the delay it has taken in responding. We have spent time looking at the services we are currently offering, the pathways to receive this support and the number of autistic children we have using services. All this takes time and we acknowledge that we should have responded sooner. Please be assured that we are listening and keen to make improvements.

Through this communication you have highlighted the very real difficulties in communicating with the LA at times, it also of note that the issues you have raised are ones that we ourselves were reflecting on and wishing to change and resolve ourselves.

Like you, we are keen to make sure the services the council offers are distributed to the families who need them the most. We agree that autistic children have not always had the same access to services and agree that the current system is not working. The current operational structure means that children without a learning disability are assessed and provided support through our Family Solutions Service (Early Help and Statutory Social Work). We agree that this model is not working as well as it could for all autistic children and their parents/carers.

We want to think together about how we might create a model that does work, and we want to work with you and your children on how we can do this better. This will be a long-term project, which will involve us working very closely together with the Parent Carer Forum and other organisations to properly understand the experiences of your children; what works and what doesn’t.

Ultimately this should provide a much better offer for autistic children in the future. We are committed to this and want to find solutions that work and not “quick fixes” but one that creates a sustainable family support system.

We are acutely aware that this will not help you and your children immediately, and so we thought it might be helpful for us to offer the following information on what we can do better in the interim and will provide further detailed information in the next few weeks:

  • “Myth busting” information sheet and session with Charlotte Davey (Head Of Service – Disabled Children) on how the LA system works currently. With suggestions and advice on how and where to find support now.

  • An escalation process for you to use when the current system hasn’t worked, so that you can receive a quicker response, reducing long delays and frustration. This doesn’t mean that you will automatically receive extra support, but that decisions can be checked by senior staff who have experience and expertise in autism and remedies offered where we can.

  • Information fact sheet on social care needs and autism, containing information on social groups available that children can attend.

  • Support, Expertise and Advisory line for parents, carers and professionals.

  • Information about alternatives to services offered by the council that are available through the private sector and other agencies.

Together we are stronger - if you are keen to get involved in helping our services develop, please approach the Oxfordshire Parent Carers Forum via for more information.

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