Derbyshire Parent Carer Voice – Position Statement
In 2009 Derbyshire Parent Forum was initiated by a group of four professionals who were passionate about parent carers being able to influence and be involved in services across Derbyshire. This group was established following news of an initiative “Parent Participation”. A grant was available for each Local Area from Contact, previously known as Contact-a-Family. The Department for Education commissioned this organisation to distribute and monitor the grants to each area. During this time the grant was £10,000 per year.
The manager of Parent Partnership (now DIASS), CEO of Fairplay, the manager of Umbrella and the lead from the then Aiming High Team from Derbyshire County Council (DCC) applied for the original grant and went out to meet parent carers to gain views on where services could be improved. Whilst doing their own day-to-day jobs it became apparent that they needed someone to take on the running of this small service called Derbyshire Parent Forums. DCC agreed to temporarily fund a co-ordinator position to work with parent carers from around the county to form a committee which is responsible for steering funds and reaching other families in order to make a difference to services received by children and young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities.
This role began in September 2009 and quickly became a way for parent carers to meet with professionals to give their viewpoint. They quickly developed the committee and a regular newsletter and helped to direct the forums being held.
Over the years the forum became a stronger team and developed new ways of communicating with parent carers and influencing working ways with the Local Authority, Health and the Voluntary Sector. A second co-ordinator was employed on a temporary basis to support the work of the forum and to reduce pressure on parent carers who volunteered their time to support the forum.
Through this method the now Derbyshire Parent Carer Voice was able to establish views in the form of surveys and report back to the relevant service in order to support progressive change for families. Over time this was developed further. All feedback from parent carers is provided within the appendices to the reports in order to ensure that all feedback is captured. There was less demand for meeting professionals face-to-face at the forum meetings and so it was decided that training and workshops would be more beneficial to parent carers. In order to fulfil the grant obligations, parent carers were asked to complete a short survey which would feed into a report giving their views, opinions and suggestions to the current survey.
In 2016, with a strong team of parent carers, Derbyshire Parent Forums renamed Derbyshire Parent Carer Voice and became a charity which strengthened the distance of the forum from the Local Authority. Funds were put into a bank account under the charity’s name rather than being held by DCC. Derbyshire Parent Carer Voice is governed by Charity Commission.
Questions we are regularly asked include:
- Why are co-ordinators funded by the Local Authority?
- Where does the Derbyshire Parent Carer Voice (DPCV) money come from?
- What are DPCV’s policies and procedures?
- How impartial is DPCV?
The answers to these questions are detailed below. If you have any more questions, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DPCV co-ordinator/s have been funded by the Local Authority from the time when Parent Carer Forums were first established to ensure there was a viable group for establishing the forums and bringing sustainability for the forum to progress, i.e. for it to develop into a charity. However, the amount of work that is carried out by the charity would not be sustainable with only volunteers and therefore the information given to and sought from parent carers would not be as effective without co-ordinators. As a contribution to the forum, DCC has continued with the co-ordinator contract for the last nine years, and, as requested by the charity’s trustees, DCC has paid for a second co-ordinator to support the workload over from 2016 to 2019.Why has the contribution been made in terms of staff and not in terms of money? This question has been raised before. Firstly, due to different funding streams it could be taken away very quickly. The original “pot of money” that paid for the co-ordinator no longer exists which means if the co-ordinator’s position was not a paid worker the funding would have ended in 2011 and it would not have been received by the forum. Secondly, the funding the forum receives for parent participation would not cover a paid worker. Thirdly, if funding was gained elsewhere for a paid member of staff it would create further work in payroll, pension and cover, etc and finally, DCC only deals with pay but they have to provide working equipment and office space. All duties are carried out with the trustees’ agreement and acknowledgement to ensure the role of DPCV co-ordinators is fulfilled.
- Before becoming a charity (2009-March 2016), all monies from Contact (then Contact-a-Family) for parent participation went into the Local Authority’s bank account. This was ring-fenced and is strictly monitored invoice by invoice (or receipt) by Contact to ensure all monies paid out are in line with the information set out in the grant application. In April 2016, DPCV set up their own bank account in preparation for becoming a charity. Monies spent are approved by the Chair, Vice Chair or Treasurer and larger amounts are minuted, approved or declined in Management Meetings where most trustees are present. Becoming a charity opened the doors for further funding, for example, Health and Wellbeing Days for parent carers. DPCV has also received additional funding from DIASS and the Local Authority to train four trustees to become IPSEA Level 1 trained so that they feel confident to challenge the Local Authority and Health services.
- DPCV has its own set of policies and procedures which are followed as a forum. DPCV also has its own insurances as the forum is a separate entity to DCC. Most of the DPCV information is on the website; the website is in the process of being updated as some of the information is a little out of date.
- DPCV challenges the Local Authority and encourages parent carers to constructively use their voice to make changes to services, give feedback on experiences, etc. DPCV has trustees sitting on many of the decision-making boards, particularly DCC-led boards but our intention is also to be more involved with health. We use surveys such as Survey Monkey to gain views of parent carers who are unable to attend our events and share the report on our website; a copy of which is also given to the relevant authority.
Forum Policy and Procedures