FAQ about Education Health & Care Plans & Needs Assessments

If you have a question about any EHCP related issues, you may find a quick answer here:


  • What should I do before I apply for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)?
  • It is very important you discuss any concerns or intention to request an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment with your educational provider (Early years, School, Post 16 setting) before you make the request. They will be asked to provide information about your child (or you as a young person) and how they currently meet their needs. Good practice dictates that requests of this type will be made jointly between the parent/carer or young person and their education provider.

    Whilst this is not compulsory, SENAT (special Educational Needs Assessment Team) ask parents to read the Guidance and Criteria for Requests for Education Health & Care Needs Assessments BEFORE making a request as it may give a clearer idea about how these are considered by the Local Authority.

    Please check out our EHC Needs Assessment Page for further detail about what the law says around EHC Needs Assessments and making a request.


  • Can a parent make an EHCNA request on behalf of a young person?
  • Once someone reaches the age of 16, for the purposes of the Children and Families Act 2014 they are referred to as a ‘young person’. There is a presumption under this law that the majority of 16 – 25 year olds have capacity to make the majority of decisions for themselves about their education. In most cases therefore a request would only be accepted with the express permission of the young person themselves.

    Whilst the request can be made on a young persons behalf, the Local Authority (and tribunal if it went to appeal) would expect to see the majority of it in their own words and permission expressly given for the request (and subsequent decisions) to be made.


  • What is the difference between an EHCP and an EHCNA
  • An Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment is the process of gathering evidence to determine whether a chid or young person may need to have special educational provision made through an EHC Plan (rather than through the education settings’ normal resources). In simple terms then, the EHCNA is the process of gathering the information and the EHCP is the legal document written by the LA as a result of the EHCNA evidencing it is needed.


  • How long will it take to get an EHC Plan?
  • The time from the initial EHCNA request to the receipt of the EHC Plan is up to 20 weeks. However there are several stages involved which you can see in this document: How long should an EHC Needs Assessment take?


  • I need support to request an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Who can help me?
  • If you need help to consider whether your child or young person meets the criteria for requesting an EHC Needs Assessment or you need help to make the request please read our EHC Needs Assessment Page. Alternatively contact us at SENDIAS (an impartial information, advice and support service) on:

    • Telephone: 03302 228 555
    • Email: send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk.
    We can also help you to find ways to get your concerns across, or support in accessing mediation or appealing to the SEN Tribunal Service.


  • What happens if I don’t agree with the outcomes or decisions made for my child?
  • If there is anything that you are confused about or do not agree with during any part of the EHCNA/ EHCP process, you can phone SENAT directly and speak to your Planning Coordinator. You can ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns if you think that would help.

    You can also contact us here at SENDIAS for impartial, confidential advice on anything you don’t understand at any time.


    For more information about the process following a request for an EHC needs assessment visit our other website pages or have a look at the West Sussex County Council website.

    Do you have an EHC Plan or Needs Assessment related question? If you have a generic question then please feel free to email it to us: send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk  with the subject header ‘Question for website page’ and as well as sending you an answer, we will also put the question and answer on this page for others to view. If it is about your own situation however, then please contact us and an adviser will be in touch as soon as they can.