Parent carer participation

In this section, you can find out how you can get involved in improving local services through a parent carer participation forum.

You might also be interested in meeting other parents by joining a local support group.

What is parent carer participation?

Using their direct experience of receiving services, parent carer forums can help to pinpoint any issues frequently experienced by families with disabled children in their local area. This experience can be used to highlight where local services, processes and commissioners are working well, or challenge when changes or improvements need to be made.


This is when parent carer forums play an integral and equal part in the decision-making process and are fully engaged in shaping, developing, implementing and evaluating services and systems.

This happens when parent carer forums, statutory agencies and practitioners work together, recognising each other's expert knowledge, to make informed decisions about disabled children's services.

Evidence shows that these partnerships often make the best use of people's time and money, whilst also improving outcomes for disabled children.

Watch this co-production video or watch the subtitled version, where forums, local authorities, health providers and commissioners share their experiences of working in co-production and how it helped them improve services.

Find out how Leeds worked in co-production [PDF] involving people at different levels when implementing the SEND reforms.

You can read more about co-production in our Parent Carer Forum Handbook [PDF].

Funding for parent carer participation in England

There is a grant available for a parent carer forum in every local authority area in England from the Department for Education (DfE) to support their development and strategic involvement in local services.  The grant is administered by Contact, the charity for families with disabled children. Find out more about the grants process.

More about our work

Find out more about our work with parent carer participation:

If you want to find out more about our work supporting parent carer participation contact out team by emailing

Contact a parent carer forum in your area

See public contact details for Parent Carer Forums in England.

View our list of regional parent carer participation advisers [PDF] to find support in your area.