Keep child care at school, parents say

Four in five parents of disabled children are in favour of child
care based around schools, according to an unpublished survey of
more than 1,000 families conducted by the Council of Disabled

The findings reinforce the recommendations of the Education Act
2002, which encourage schools to offer child care.

At a conference on meeting the needs of very young disabled
children last week, director of the Council of Disabled Children
Philippa Russell highlighted the benefits of using the government’s
“extended schools” concept to address the survey’s findings.

The concept involves schools opening outside normal hours to
provide activities such as homework and breakfast clubs.

“Schools are not judgemental, not stigmatised and people will use
them,” Russell said.

Extended schools would provide for the co-location of services and
allow disabled children to be catered for in the same place as
their non-disabled siblings.

Special schools, which often have better amenities, could also be
opened up to non-disabled children, allowing mixing, Russell

Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau,
said: “We are wasting resources. Some of the best community
resources in the land are in schools that are only open from 9.30am
to 3.30pm.”

Co-locating services would make transport for disabled children
less of an issue. Russell called for a debate on transport
policies, which vary between local authorities – some refuse to
allow disabled children and their siblings to travel together.

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