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The Three Pillars: How to deliver better care for disabled children

Published Date: 11 Oct 2019

Adapted from a blog post by Stephen Kingdom. Stephen is Campaigns Manager at the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP). The DCP is a group of charities campaigning on issues affecting disabled children. The National Deaf Children’s Society is a member.

In the middle of the recent political drama, there have also been some important developments for disabled children and their families:

  • In June, the DCP launched the Give It Back campaign with The Sun, calling on the Government to give back the £434 million missing from social care budgets for disabled children.
  • In July, the Commons Education Committee published a report on school funding which described the funding for special educational needs and disabilities as “completely inadequate”.
  • In September, a damning National Audit Office report concluded that “the system for supporting pupils with SEND is not […] financially sustainable”. The Local Government Association also reported a £1.4 billion funding gap for children’s services. This number is still growing.

The Government has responded with additional funding for schools and social care, as well as a review of the SEND system. These are, of course, to be welcomed, but with some conditions.

The additional funding includes £700 million for ‘high needs’, but this is only guaranteed for one year. It is also unlikely that any of this increased funding will reach disabled children and their families. We’re pleased to see that the Government has recognised the need to review the SEND system, but we need action to address the crisis in support.

The Three Pillars – here’s what the Government needs to do to improve support for disabled children

1. Make disabled children a priority

Disabled children need to be made a priority across government, at both a national and local level. We’re also calling on the Government to appoint a Minister for Disabled Children with clear responsibility, accountability and power across departments. This is to make sure that the right support from health, social care, education and other services is in place for families.

2. Clarify the rights of disabled children and their families, and review the law

The Government needs to work with parents to let them know about the rights that they currently have. They also need to undertake a review of the law to strengthen and simplify it for families.

The existing law related to disabled children and their families involves over 10 different laws, regulations and guidance from the last 50 years. These are hard for parents to understand, and means services and agencies can shift responsibilities between themselves. As a result, families end up falling between the gaps.

The Government must work with parents to improve guidance on the current system – so that it’s easier for them to know their rights – and introduce reforms to make the system simpler, and rights and responsibilities clearer.

3. Create a dedicated fund to address the funding gap

The Government needs to increase funding for health and social care for disabled children. There is currently a £1.5billion funding gap across health and social care support, and this gap must be filled as a matter of urgency.

We are also calling on the Government to set up an Early Intervention and Family Resilience Innovation Fund. This is a long-term solution which would support projects which transform disabled children’s health and social care. This is by fixing problems at the earliest point when a need is identified, and by focusing on the family as a whole.

More information about the Disabled Children's Partnership can be found on their website.