More families are happy with short breaks provided under the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, according to a report launched by Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) today.
EDCM is using the findings to urge the government to keep short breaks a high priority following the announcement that a green paper on children with disabilities and special education will be published in the autumn.
Despite the general satisfaction, Christine Lenehan, EDCM board member and director of the Council for Disabled Children, said the system was still failing too many families and information provision needed to be improved.
“We call on the government to empower local authorities and primary care trusts to improve their delivery of short breaks by making a commitment to a new vision for the transformation programme,” Lenehan said.
The report, which consists of first-hand experiences of parents of disabled children, said too many were told they are ineligible for short breaks. EDCM published reports from parents about the misuse of eligibility criteria, with some saying their local authorities placed blanket bans on specific groups of children.
The study also revealed that many families are offered inappropriate provision or have to repeatedly provide training to different short-break workers before feeling confident that they can care for their child.
Lenehan said the green paper was an ideal opportunity for the government to explore the issues.
Meanwhile, families of children with severe disabilities or special educational needs are being urged to apply immediately for a Home Access package with assistive technology before the government programme closes.
The programme has provided these children with computers suited to their needs since its launch in January. More than 200,000 low-income families now have access to the internet at home.
Nigel Lewis, chief executive of children’s charity AbilityNet, said: “Home Access has already opened up the possibilities of the internet to thousands of children, I am pleased to back the call for the parents and carers to apply for the right equipment to allow severely disabled children to join them online.”