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Role of the Luton Designated Clinical Officer (DC0) for Children and Young People (CYP) with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

The role of Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for Children and Young People (CYP) with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) for Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was created under the Children and Families Act (CFA) 2014 to support local health services to implement the recommended changes in the Act and in supporting joined up working between health services and local authorities.

The role is varied but most importantly it is to support health colleagues to ensure that CYP aged 0-25 with SEND have the right support to achieve the best they possibly can.

In essence, there are 3 key areas of responsibilities of the role

  1. A role of  assurance  in having an oversight of the needs of and provisions for CYP with SEND
  2. Act as an operational health lead for the Education, Health and Care Plan Pathway
  3. A strategic role within joint commissioning of services and the local area participation and engagement strategy.

In practice this mean that there is a responsibility to understand the ways in which services are working to meet the needs of children, young people, and their families; such as, the way in which health services identify the needs of children and young people in their local area, the quality of services provided and gaps in provision.

The coordination element of the role is centred on working in partnership with partners involved, to include not only health providers but the local authority, parent carer groups, young advocate groups to ensure effective communication.

What services does the DCO offer to support Children and Young People with SEND and their families?

The earlier a special educational need is identified in a child, the better their chances are of achieving their true potential in life. With this in mind, the DCO work in partnerships with all stakeholders such as Health, Social care and Education service; Statutory and voluntary organisation; and Children, Young people and Parent Forums to help improve early identification, and ensure timely support for CYP with SEND and families to achieve the ‘best possible educational and other outcomes’.

The DCO role is varied and includes (but not limited to) the following:

  • Understand the system and help children, young people and their parents to navigate it and signpost them to support groups
  • Attend Education, Health and Care Panels (EHCP) to discuss which children go forwards for EHC Needs assessments and then if required have an EHC Plan drawn out.
  • Liaise between the local authority and the local NHS (Clinical Commissioning Group) so that a child who has health and medical needs can be sure to get those needs met in their Education, Health and Care plan provision
  • Supporting health professionals with the information required within the assessments and education colleagues to access the correct information and support
  • Supporting the SEND team at the local authority with questions and queries on information relating to health
  • Signposting education professionals to the relevant health services/ professionals for advice
  • Sign off and assure the quality of the EHCP and advices that informed it.
  • Working alongside the commissioners and stakeholders including parents, children and young people, to identify and raise any commissioning gaps some of which may require joint commissioning to resolve
  • Ensuring we can evidence a good local offer of health services and clear health journeys for CYP age 0-25 with SEND
  • Supporting the commissioners and senior leadership team with regards meeting and assuring the SEND health requirements
  • Attending Parents’ Forums and events and being honest, open and transparent about services and provisions; and collating feedback from families to gather useful intelligence.

Services that the DCO work in partnership with to support Children and Young People with SEND and their families?

  • Parent Carer Forum and other parent groups:  Working in partnership with Parent Carers Forum and parent groups to consider the needs of their children, local needs, quality of services and identify gaps in provision. Promoting coproduction with families and parents.
  • Children, Young People and families: Ensuring the voice and lived experiences of Children, Young people and their family are captured and at the centre of planning and service delivery.
  • Health Service providers:  Includes working with health service providers to support their understanding of the SEND reforms and supporting with the information required within the EHC Needs assessments.
  • Local Authority liaison: Promoting joint up working between health services and local authorities and supporting the SEN Team at the Local Authority with queries on information. Participation in multiagency meetings and ways in which health and local authority develop processes to ensure timeliness and quality of advice.
  • Service providers:  Preparation for Local Area Inspection, identifying gaps in services and working with the services to try and resolve this. This could be described as the role of a “critical friend”.
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG): working with the CCG to support their understanding of the needs of children and young people in the local area and influencing joint commissioning.

For more information about the DCO, please contact the Luton local area SEND service: or

Article by Folake (Fola) Jacobs. DCO Luton.