Blackburn with Darwen Council is looking for a new provider for its Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service from this summer.

The authority is extending its current contract to July 31 to allow for a tendering procedure.

The new SENDIASS arrangements will be in place from August 1.

The contract will be awarded for three years with an option to extend for up to two more years subject to satisfactory delivery.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's education and children's services boss, Cllr Julie Gunn, says in a report to colleagues: "The aim of the SENDIASS is to help to promote independence and self- advocacy for children, young people and parents.

"The service provides free impartial, confidential and accurate information, advice and support regarding education, health and social care for children, young people and their parents on matters relating to Special Educational Needs and Disability.

"The service promotes partnerships between parent and carers, children, education and family services, schools and other agencies.

"The aim of the service is to empower, enable and encourage parents to take an informed and active part in their child’s education, and for young people to be involved in decisions about their own education and futures.

"The service must ensure its services are accessible, with a base in Blackburn.

"A key element of the service will be responsive to the needs of all users and provide information on the local authority’s processes for resolving disagreements, its complaints procedures and support children, young people and parents in arranging or attending early disagreement resolution meetings.

"In line with national minimum standards, the current Blackburn with Darwen SENDIASS is an outsourced service.

"Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council will pay the successful provider up to £56,000 per year, on a block contract.

"Under the Children and Families Act (2014), it is a legal requirement that all local authorities have a SENDIASS Service."