Disabled children have received a poor deal from public services. Despite rafts of policy, a lack of funding has always compromised the level of support. Only 6% of disabled children are supported by social services.
That could be about to change. The Disabled Children’s Review published this week by the government commits £340m to promoting access, responsiveness and quality in services over the next three years. The largest chunk of funding – £280m – is focused on providing short breaks for disabled children and their families. There’s also £35m to promote the availability of child care.
Considering that eight out of 10 families with a severely disabled child have described themselves at, or close to, breaking point, it’s a sensible allocation of resource.
As important as the funding is the review’s commitment to developing an indicator as part of the public service agreements. And a “core offer” making it clear what services disabled children and their families can expect.
The Every Disabled Child Matters campaign has won high level support, namely from Ed Balls, the chancellor’s right hand man. But, there is more to be done. You voted for us to campaign on this issue and we’ll help to keep these issues in the spotlight.
Key elements of the Early Support Programme should be transferred to managing disabled children’s services, for example. Another report this week on palliative care reveals that primary care trusts are not spending enough on disabled children. And how far will this extra money go when it’s spread between the 770,000 disabled children estimated nationally?
The review is a positive first step, but it’s only that.