What is a Parent Carer Forum?

A Parent Carer Forum (PCF) is a group of parents and carers of children with additional needs and disabilities. Everyone who works or volunteers with a parent carer forum is also a parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND. Parent Carer Forums aim to ensure the services in their area meet the needs and improve outcomes of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families. Essex Family Forum is the Parent Carer Forum for Essex.

What does Essex Family Forum as a Parent Carer Forum do?

We work with (not for) local authorities, health commissioning bodies and social care to represent parent views and experiences to influence and inform the provision and services used by our children, young people and their families.

Essex Family Forum believes in co-production. Co-production is when parent carers play an integral and equal part in the decision-making process and are fully engaged in shaping, developing, implementing and evaluating services and systems.

The Essex Alliance

The Essex Alliance is made up of the three-parent carer forums that cover each local authority within Essex: Southend, Essex and Thurrock.

The Essex Alliance work together to represent all families across the county of Essex, which can be referred to by some services as SET Essex.

Parent voice beyond Essex

Essex Family Forum is part of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) and the Eastern Region Regional Parent Carer Forum (ERPCF)


The NNPCF’s membership is made up of (up to) 153 local parent carer forums, currently comprising 80,000 parent carers. These member forums are arranged into 9 regions, these follow the same regional breakdown as the Department for Education. Each of the regions appoints a regional representative to act as their regional steering group member within the NNPCF national steering group. Our NNPCF Rep for the East of England is Jo Harrison.  The ERPCF is one of the 9 regions of the NNPCF and consists of 11 Parent Carer Forums (PCFs) who represent parent and carers across the East of England and who are in receipt of the DfE Grant for parent participation for their Local / Unitary Authority.

You can read more about our regional voice here: https://easternregionofparentcarerforums.org.uk/about/a-voice-for-the-eastern-region/

Julia Brunning our Strategic Development Coordinator (Education and social Care Lead) sits on the ERPCF steering group as Vice Chair and is also a National Representative with the NNPCF working both regionally and nationally, including being the appointed representative to attend the National SEND Forum, which brings together key organisations such as National Head Teachers Union, Special Schools Consortium, NASEN and Whole School SEND.


Jo Harrison our Strategic Development Coordinator (Health and Regional Lead) is the Director and East of England representative for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF). Jo also leads the NNPCF health team and works closely with NHS England and the NHS East of England team on key projects for children and young people with learning disabilities and Autism as identified through NHS Long term Plan.  Jo is also co-chair of the East of England Neurodevelopment Disorders Network, which together with health, education and social care professionals as well as Parent Carer Forum across the East of England, look at innovative projects and best practice nationally.

You can read more here about the work of NNPCF here: https://nnpcf.org.uk/blog/about/meet-the-team/steering-group/

This means your views not only contribute to the work we do in Essex but also to regional and national discussions and developments relating to SEND.

Click HERE for the Safeguarding Policy.

Click HERE for the Compliments and Complaints Policy

Click HERE for the Equality and Diversity Policy

Click HERE for the Volunteer Policy

What's on/Coming up

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Who we are

The Essex Family Forum is a well-informed, connected and empowered community of families that includes children and young people up to the age of 25 with disabilities or additional needs. We work in partnership with organisations, our Local Authority and health commissioners aiming for quality outcomes that meet the needs of all our families. We are also part of the Eastern region and national network of forums.