CC Live: Disabled children ‘lose out in short breaks muddle’

Disabled children could fail to benefit from the current expansion of short-break schemes due to confusion over entitlements, Community Care Live Children and Families was told today.

Ruth Marchant, co-director of disabled children’s charity Triangle, said the schemes, which are funded as part of the government’s Aiming High for Disabled Children strategy, had a misguided focus and were more likely to benefit parents.

Marchant told the conference in London: “It is a spectacularly false starting point because there is a confusion about who is the client. [The strategy] is framed around parents’ entitlement to a break and perpetuates the view that disabled children are a burden – and this is a tragedy.”

Overhaul services

Under its strategy, the government has provided £370m of ringfenced money so that local authorities can overhaul their short-break services between 2008-11.

Srabani Sen, chief executive of charity Contact a Family, said although Aiming High for Disabled Children focused on providing specialist services, universal services were sometimes lacking.

She said: “When you go and talk to services like housing, too often they haven’t even heard about Aiming High and that’s a huge gap in knowledge.”

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