Kent County Council's Children's Services were under consistent pressure due to increasing requests around support for children with special educational needs (SEN). Growing demand for the service was creating a negative encounter for some families, with parents experiencing delays and slow progress. Staff shared the frustration with high caseloads and a struggle to keep up with incoming cases.
Kent County Council invited us to work with them, having seen FamilyStory, and wanted our support in valuing the ability to use design thinking and digital to make changes to the way services are delivered.
We worked collaboratively with the Special Educational Needs Service, Innovation team and Digital team to form a new multidisciplinary working group. Together, we set out to improve the experience of delivering and accessing support for children with SEN.
Building on our knowledge from previous work in this area in Dorset, we focused on the early stages of seeking help for a child with SEN (applying for education, health and care plan or EHCP). This was the first step to develop improvements and introduce new ways of working to begin to make changes across the system.
We involved individuals including parents and young people, the SEN service, schools, health practitioners and commissioners to gain a wider understanding of challenges in the service.
Using simple prototypes of improvements we were able to have conversations with people to understand if the proposed changes would improve their experience of delivering or accessing support.
We printed out drawings of screens to show how users might access information and apply for support online, to test if the information provided was helpful and if the ways they apply for support would work.