A LONG-SUFFERING mum is leading calls demanding an independent investigation into the county’s failing services for children with special needs.

Elena Round wants Worcestershire Children First, which runs children’s services on behalf of Worcestershire County Council, to be investigated over its record of failings and treatment of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Mrs Round, from Worcester, said she and her family will never recover from the years of battling with the county council to secure vital support and therapy for her 18-year-old son Billy, who has complex needs and struggles to carry out everyday tasks such as getting dressed, washing and eating.

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Billy already had a legally binding education, health and care plan (EHCP) before moving to Worcestershire in 2018 but was then unlawfully denied physical and occupational therapy by the county council.

A petition has been set up requesting an urgent investigation into the county’s children’s services over the failure to provide support and therapy to hundreds of families and for the stress and anxiety the local authority has caused.

Mrs Round said that despite being told by the council that her son Billy’s distress was an “isolated case” the hundreds of similar stories of suffering she has heard from families across Worcestershire she fears the SEND crisis could be akin to the Shrewsbury maternity scandal which saw a string of catastrophic failures lead to the deaths of more than 200 babies.

“We go to all these council meetings and keep being spun the same line about an ‘accelerated’ action plan,” she said. “They are listening to us and they don’t want to engage with us.

“It’s the same rhetoric all the time.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of families who are suffering terrible things. Children are not getting placements, there are children not getting the therapies they need and the local authority gets away with it because they can. They are not accountable to anyone.”

READ MORE: Mum criticises council for failing to label much-criticised SEND service as a top priority

Mrs Round said children’s services appeared to be in “disarray” and was a “complete mess.”

“We are hearing stories from staff that are saying that it is a sinking ship there,” she added.

“My son has been so badly traumatised by the whole thing. It has taken 18 months at his new college to get him stable. He was in a shell, his behaviour changed. He doesn’t trust adults at all now.

“We can’t recover from this as a family, we really can’t. It has absolutely crippled us. Something has got to be done.

“I will take it to Downing Street. Something will come out. Whether that’s in six months, twelve months or in five years, something will come out. Somebody will come and do a review and they will ask why nobody said anything at the time so at least I can say that I tried. That’s what I’m doing it.”

Tina Russell, chief executive of Worcestershire Children First, said she understood how “serious and frustrating” it was for families and was committed to ‘driving’ improvements at pace.

“We have been working alongside the Department for Education to ensure our Accelerated Progress Plan refocuses us in the way we are approaching working with parents and carers and ensuring progress for children with special educational needs," she said in a statement.

"We are implementing our Quality Assurance framework in SEND and this will enable us across the multi-agency SEND partnership to have a regular overview not only of key performance indicators but also the experiences of parents and carers and the quality of the assessments and plans being created as we look to move forward.

"The Department for Education signed off our plan and have been particularly positive about our approach to measures, outcomes and to understanding better the experiences of parents and carers.

“We understand how serious and frustrating it is for all involved when children are not accessing the right type of education provision in a timely way and we know there are both local and national challenges we need to work through.

"We are committed to drive our improvements at pace and we are working with health partners and schools to ensure that we identify a child’s needs early and with sufficient quality to enable us to match provision to their needs and ultimately promote the best outcomes for each individual child or young person.”

You can view the petition here.