Charities working with disabled children have joined forces to publish a bill that would force local authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate short breaks for families with disabled children who provide a substantial level of ongoing care.
The Disabled Children Short Breaks Bill, intended to give disabled children and their families the legal right to short break care, would also amend the Childcare Act 2006 to require local authorities to secure a sufficient supply of short breaks in their area to address inadequate and patchy provision.
The four organisations running the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign – Contact a Family, the Council for Disabled Children, Mencap and the Special Education Consortium – hope the bill will be taken forward as a private members bill if one of the 70 MPs who have already pledged their support for it wins a top slot in this week’s private members bill ballot. They also hope it will influence the Treasury’s review of services for children and young people and ultimately lead to greater resources.
Last month’s cross-party study into services for disabled children found that, rather than the situation improving, there was evidence of rising eligibility criteria and parents being turned away for short-term breaks by councils.
“At present, the delivery of government’s strategy towards disabled children and their families is dire,” said Mencap chief executive Jo Williams. “Eighty per cent of families are reaching breaking point and still funding for short break services for disabled children is being cut.
“We need proper funding to ensure the system is fully transformed so that people can access short break care when and where they need it.”
Contact the author: Lauren Revans