ITV News Central Reporter Lucy Kapasi speaks to parents of children with special educational needs, who say Worcestershire's children's services are failing their families
Parents of children with special educational needs in Worcestershire have called on the director of children's services in the county to stand down.
An open letter from a campaign group, which represents 800 families, says there remains a widespread culture of "delay tactics" and "unlawful practices" and that parents and carers are "treated as adversaries".
SEND National Crisis Worcestershire has written to Worcestershire Children First, which runs children's services in the county and Worcestershire County Council.
The letter calls for Tina Russell, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First, to resign and for the removal of managers who 'continue to make unlawful decisions that are failing our children and young people'.
The mother of a 19-year-old girl with autism and dyslexia says the battle to get the right support almost drove her to take her own life.
Dawn Style from Barnt Green says her daughter is passionate about art but isn't able to read or write.
Ms Style speaks about the toll trying to get the right support takes on her and her family
"You just keep fighting and fighting and fighting. It wears you down, to the point where you just think... where I was ready to... you're just done.
"Mentally, that has taken a big toll on me and it obviously affects my family."
Dawn is now trying to get funding to help pay for transport to and from her specialist college in Coventry - around 30 miles away - which costs £300 a month.
She says she feels she's being punished for not allowing her daughter to go to a mainstream school, which wouldn't have met her needs.
Rowan Winchester, 11, from Bromsgrove is autistic and is taught at home by teachers.
His parents have spent £25,000 on lawyers and private assessments to get him the right educational and health support.
His mum, Tracey, also supports other parents with special educational needs children as they navigate the system.
She says that she's now helping other parents more than ever before.
Tracey says she's having to support more families than ever and it takes a lot to stand up to people and say their actions are unlawful
She added: "I'm having to support more families than ever and to a depth that I've never had to do before.
"Understandably in these sort of meetings, they're quite intimidating and it takes a lot to stand up to people to say - what you're saying isn't lawful.
"We're a year down the line and we just shouldn't be in this situation."
The director of Worcestershire Children First says the challenges and solutions are multi-dimensional and complex, but that it remains committed to driving improvements at pace.
In a statement, Tina Russell, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First, said: “We have been working on our Accelerated Action Plan for almost 12 months now.
"Throughout this time, we have worked alongside a wide range of professionals, and parents and carers in implementing our comprehensive Action Plan.
"Each month, we invite representatives of 24 different Worcestershire Parents/Carers forums, of which the Worcestershire SEND National Crisis Group is one, to join us at our Parent/Carer stakeholder forum so we can hear their views and co-produce service developments.
"Our Key Performance Indicators and Quality Assurance quarterly reports through 2022/23 have evidenced progress is being made.
"Our Key Performance Indicators have evidenced a more positive trend in the management of workload and timeliness which we predicted and expect to see continue as our additional staff join our services and the parent carer feedback shows positive progress in the experience of parents and carers.
"Whilst the feedback is increasingly positive with regard to parent/carers being fully involved in assessments, feeling the needs of their children are well understood and their plans are meeting or working toward meeting their needs, we recognise this isn’t yet the experience for all children and young people and we continue to be committed to making it the experience for all.
"Our improvement plan recognises all the challenges in SEND provision and “Inclusion” that is well reported nationally.
"WCF are being supported by health partners, who have themselves acknowledged significant challenges in capacity to meet demand and have agreed additional investment as part of a wider action plan, and by education providers in both mainstream and specialist provisions to ensure the right children access the right provision to enable them to learn and achieve.
"The challenges and solutions are multi-dimensional and complex, but we remain committed to drive our improvements at pace, to ensure that we identify and assess an individual child’s needs early and to develop our specialist and inclusive provisions to meet the needs of children and young people ultimately promoting the best outcomes for each individual child or young person.”