What are parent carer forums?

Parent carer forums are groups of parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). They work with local authorities, education settings, health and social care providers to make sure that the planning and provision of services for families takes full account of parent carer views and experiences, so that those services can be effective, timely and the best use of resources.

Almost all local authority areas in England have a parent carer forum – over 150 in all. In Norfolk, this is Family Voice Norfolk. It is funded by grants from the Department for Education, the local authority and the five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Norfolk, but works independently to improve the lives of children and young people with SEND and their families.

Family Voice Norfolk encourages all parent carers of children and young people with SEND to become members. It seeks to gather and understand the experiences and views of families in many ways. This knowledge is then used to inform work with providers and decision-makers.

By far the most effective way of working is by means of co-production, where planners, providers and parent carers work in partnership to create the best outcomes possible.

Family Voice Norfolk is part of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF), which means that it is also able to ensure that the voices of Norfolk parent carers reach decision-makers in national government.