Support for families
Check if you're now eligible for free school meals
If your circumstances have changed your child may now be eligible for free school meals. Read our free school meals page and check if you can claim free school meals for your child.
Resources to support your child's learning
Educational Psychology Service helpline for parents
If you're worried about how your child is coping at the moment and need some more support contact our Educational Psychology Service helpline for parents on 01258 474036.
Sign up to get our newsletters
Sign up to get our newsletters for useful information about support for families in Dorset.
Young carer activities
How you can find help for you and your family
Our Family Information Service can help you with online information such as:
- finding childcare
- information about childcare funding
- finding activities, clubs, events and self-help groups on our Family Information Directory
- applying for free school meals
- advice on where to find help if you're concerned about your child's behaviour or progress
You need more childcare information
If there's some childcare infomation you cannot find complete our short form and let us know what's missing.
Support for families of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)
Find support on our Local Offer
Information, advice and services to support parents and families of children and young people with SEND.
How you can get help from elsewhere
Sometimes you may feel you need a bit more help and support. Our locality family support can help with this.
Children's Centres and coronavirus
All Dorset Children's Centres are closed.
We're still available to offer support to you and your family. Contact us through your local family support team.
If you're worried about the immediate safety of a child or young person contact our Children's Advice and Duty Service:
Foodbanks in Dorset
Children's Centre nurseries
Our 2 Children's Centre nurseries are open:
To improve the services we provide to all children, young people and families we're moving more of our teams into local areas. That way we'll be working more closely together to support all families.
We are committed to working in our communities and with our partner agencies such as schools and health services to better support children, young people and families.
There will continue to be 6 areas which will now be known as localities, previously called Family Partnership Zones (FPZs).
Where our localities are
Our services to help families are based in:
- East Dorset
- North Dorset
- West Dorset
Which services are based in our localities
Many services are based in each locality, including:
- early help
- children's social care
- educational psychology
- special educational needs and disability (SEND)
- family workers
- youth workers
- social workers
- specialist teachers
- inclusion support
- activity and parent workers
- portage education service
- The Virtual School
If you think you might need help, contact your locality team:
See a map of our localities:
SEND workers within each locality
Each locality will have its own SEND team of professionals led by a SEND team manager, with a family worker and provision lead.
The SEND team supporting you will be based on where you live, not where your child goes to school.
The new SEND teams will include family support workers and educational psychologists all working together.
SEND provision lead role duties
The SEND provision lead role used to be called the SEND planning coordinator.
SEND provision leads:
- carry out education, health and care (EHC) plan needs assessments
- write the EHC plan once everyone who needs to has agreed on it
- oversee the EHC plan review process, including amendments to it or plans to cease (stop) it
- consult with schools when a child or young person needs a change of placement
- work with other agencies and educational settings to develop the provision described in the EHC plan to make sure it's of a good quality
A SEND provision lead can support a child or young person throughout the time they have an EHC plan, even if they move to another school or educational setting. This means we can keep consistency for your child and family.
SEND family worker duties
This role supports our commitment to providing a graduated approach to support children and young people with SEND.
SEND family workers:
- are a bridge between home and school where it's needed
- work alongside families and other professionals in the locality team
- carry out whole family assessments
- work from the early years right through to transition to adulthood
- work directly with children and parents to address issues
- help children and families develop coping strategies
- develop, deliver and monitor plans in partnership with other professionals
- take an agile, person-centred approach to enable children to meet their expected outcomes
- make sure everyone uses strategies that work for the child or young person whether they're at home or at school
SEND team manager
The SEND team manager oversees the SEND provision lead and SEND family workers.
Dorset Families Matter
Dorset Families Matter is a partnership programme. We set this programme up in 2012 to deliver the government's Troubled Families agenda. Through the programme we aim to support families who experience many complex challenges to help them improve their well-being. This support comes from professionals already working with eligible families.
Whole-family working is central to this. All the principles and ways of working that have been tested out by Dorset Families Matter have now been incorporated into the work of the Family Partnership Zones across Dorset.
Professionals supporting families
Professionals: find out about early help in Dorset.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're a professional supporting families to find more information.