Support hub for young people with additional needs wins £1M government backing

04 July 2022

A proposal to create a support hub for children and young people with autism and learning difficulties has won government backing.

An Respite Innovation Grant of £1m has been awarded by the Department for Education to set up an Intensive Therapeutic Support Hub which will help young people with challenging behaviours to remain with their family, in their community and at school.

The successful bid was put together by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, who all form part of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care System (ICS).

The hub is an excellent example of how partners working collaboratively within the ICS are able to achieve greater experiences and outcomes for local communities. It will provide therapy and further support for families which it is hoped will enable positive behavioural changes. It will help children and young people, typically aged 11-15 years, who could be at risk of permanent exclusion or are experiencing challenges within the family home and require intensive early intervention of overnight care and specialist education. This will include support to keep them in a school setting, or to reintegrate them.

This in turn will reduce the time children and young people may be awaiting education placements, as well as avoiding the reliance on out-of-school tuition within the family home or provision out of the local area.

Not only will this benefit the young person and their family, it will deliver considerable savings with Cambridgeshire set for an increase in future years in the numbers requiring specialist school provision.

The proposal also includes providing residential, shared care and short breaks, as well as outreach support for children, young people and their families in their homes, community and in schools.

A suitable property, which is currently vacant and closely positioned to services that would be linked to the work of the hub, has been identified.

Cambridgeshire County Council committed to supporting children to access appropriate education services in line with their identified needs in the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough SEND Strategy 2019-2024.

The £1m grant will be managed and delivered by the council’s Children’s Commissioning Service and the hub will join the family of in-house services within the authority’s 0-25 Disability Service. It will be registered as both a school and a children’s home by the regulator Ofsted.

The DfE grant has been secured for 2022/23 and further bids will be submitted for additional years. The council will provide reports on outcomes achieved both financially and for the young people, families and schools.

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said: “I am very excited by this initiative. Huge congratulations should go out to the team who put together this successful grant application. It was one of 61 bids, so the quality of their submission must have been exceptionally high.

“The Intensive Therapeutic Support Hub will provide invaluable and much-needed help to children and young people facing particular education challenges. It will support them and their families and – most importantly – will keep them near or within their communities. This is not only right for them and sensitive to their circumstances, but also has the potential to make much-needed savings for the council.”