Empowering families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities


Reaching Families was first established in 2008 by parent-carers to “…empower, inform and support parents and families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in West Sussex”. We achieve our mission through the delivery of a wide range of high quality projects and services, including:

Making Sense of it All

Our parent-carer guide, Making Sense of It All, is often referred to as the “parent-carer Bible” by West Sussex parents. Designed to inform and empower parents of children with SEND aged 0-14 it is full of information on a wide range of subjects including diagnosis, benefits & money matters, getting support for your child at school, accessing support from health and social care and local leisure opportunities. It also contains a directory of over 400 local and national organisations and an extensive jargon buster.

Making Sense of it All cover
Making Sense of Adult Life cover

Making Sense of Adult Life

Transition to adult life is a notoriously challenging period for young people with SEND and their families. We therefore publish a guide for parents of children and young people embarking on adult life that brings together information on a wide range of issues including further and higher education, social life, adolescence and relationships, money matters, employment and volunteering and independent living. Making Sense of Adult Life also contains a directory of local and national services and an extensive jargon buster.

Both books are available to order FREE (plus postage and packing) from our publications page, and also in Kindle and iBook formats from our e-book page.

Fact Sheets

In partnership with Amaze we have published a diverse and growing series of localised fact sheets on childhood disabilities and rare syndromes that combine clinical information on a condition with local information on relevant projects, services and support. We have also co-published a range of fact sheets on miscellaneous subjects that again combine clinical information with local information on relevant projects and services. Please visit our fact sheets page for further information.

Training Roadshow

We deliver a range of high quality, half-day workshops for parent-carers on a wide variety of subjects including:

  • Anxiety in children
  • Challenging behaviour in younger children and adolescents
  • DLA, PIP and other benefits
  • EHCP and support at school
  • Food issues
  • Handling stress & building resilience
  • Parenting siblings of children with SEND
  • Sensory processing difficulties
  • Transition to Secondary School

The above workshops are delivered in a roadshow format which means we take workshops to all areas of West Sussex in order to ensure they are accessible to parents in their local neighbourhood. Please visit our Training page or take a look at our most recent flyer to see when we will next be delivering workshops near you.

Making Sense of It All - Foundation Course

This new two day course has been designed to provide an introduction on all the key issues parent-carers will encounter as your children grow and develop. It aims to empower parents of children undergoing or who have recently undergone diagnosis but is helpful to any parents who feel they need an overview of the following subjects and issues:

  • Coming to terms with and understanding your child’s diagnosis
  • Where to go for information and advice
  • Handling stress and building resilience
  • Gaining support from other parent-carers
  • Accessing benefits and financial support
  • Getting support for your child at school
  • Accessing support through health & social care
  • Accessing other key services and opportunities in West Sussex

For further information on this course and to book your place please visit our Training page.

Face-2-Face Befriending

This project provides volunteer based befriending and emotional support from an experienced and specially trained parent-carer to parents of children who are undergoing or have recently undergone diagnosis. Our befrienders undergo intensive training, are DBS checked and provided with ongoing professional support and supervision. The project is delivered in partnership with Amaze who run a similar service in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. For further information on the project please visit our Face-2-Face page.

Group Counselling

This new project is designed to provide both professional and peer based emotional support to parent-carers based in Bognor Regis and Crawley.

The groups will combine professional support alongside learning and support from other parent-carers with similar life experiences and challenges. The project is being led by Esther Hunt, a highly experienced counsellor, psychotherapist & clinical supervisor, accredited with the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, a university lecturer on resilience and all importantly, a parent-carer.

The project will launch in Bognor in April and the Crawley group will start in September.

For further information on the development and delivery of this project please visit our Group Counselling page.

Umbrellas Parent Support Group

We deliver monthly support groups for parent-carers of children with SEND based in Billingshurst, Littlehampton and Worthing. The groups are vital in helping isolated parents make connections with other parents in a similar situation. It also helps in signposting parents to other relevant projects and services. For further information on our support groups please visit the Umbrellas page.

Facebook Group

Reaching Families Facebook support group is the largest of its kind in West Sussex, an engaging and supportive forum of over 3,000 parent-carers providing hints, tips, discussion and advice on an array of subjects including benefits, education and schools, mental health and wellbeing and specific disabilities. Our group is also a must for up-to-date information, articles and news on SEND issues both locally and nationally. To find out more visit our Facebook page, or to join our group now please click the blue button.

Facebook News Page

To accompany our Facebook group we have launched a new Facebook news page designed to keep parents up-to-date with our projects and services. Whilst the group is mainly used for advice and discussion the page is only used for sharing information on our work. To visit our Facebook News page please click the green button.