What is parent carer participation?

Parent carer participation is when a group of parent carers of children and young adults 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities work in partnership with professionals and practitioners within health, education and social care.  They work together to make sure that the right services are planned and commissioned and are what the parent carers in that area want, need and will use.

Participation should be seen as a two way communication process and there are a number of ways this can happen.  The National Network of Parent Carer Forums has identified the following four stages of participation:

Information: This is the start of successful participation where parent carers are well informed and can develop their knowledge of what is needed in their area.

Consultation: This is the start of the two way process between professionals and parent carers through consulting parent carers and gaining their views on new and existing services.  It allows for parent carers to give their opinions and for professionals to take these into account.

Participation: This allows for parent carers to start being involved in service planning and decision making so that services meet the needs of those using them.  Working together allows both professionals and parent carers to share knowledge and understand the challenges faced by each of them.

Co-Production: This builds upon participation so that parent carers and professionals work together from the start of a process, at the planning, design and development stage right through to the implementation stage.  It may involve working in a different way and therefore can be challenging, however co-production benefits all as services are co-designed, co-delivered and reviewed to ensure they meet families’ needs.