Children, schools and families secretary Ed Balls has appointed Contact a Family chief executive Francine Bates as a special advisor.
Balls, who was appointed to lead the new Department for Children, Schools and Families last week, has worked closely with Contact a Family, which supports families with disabled children, and other disability charities since emerging as a parliamentary champion of disabled children last year.
In an interview with Community Care last March, Ed Balls said it was Bates who first introduced him to the problems disabled children and their families faced.
He subsequently piloted a government review into disabled children’s services, which resulted in a commitment this year to spend £340m from 2008-11 to support families.
Francine Bates was appointed chief executive of Contact a Family in 2000, after ten years at the Carers National Association (now Carers UK).
She has been at the forefront of the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign to improve services for disabled children and their families and was made an OBE in last year’s Queen’s birthday honours.