More support for parents of disabled children urged

Every Disabled Child Matters is calling for next month's government spending review to allocate £8m over five years to supporting parents of disabled children.

Every Disabled Child Matters is calling for next month’s government spending review to allocate £8m over five years to supporting parents of disabled children.

The charity wants the funding to go towards ensuring parents of disabled children are represented throughout every new framework for citizen engagement in the Big Society. It should also be used on new approaches to supporting disabled children and young people in making their own decisions about services and care.

In its report, Close to Crisis: Frontline service cuts for disabled children, EDCM says investment in this kind of early intervention, as well as in short breaks, would reduce the need for crisis services, saving public money in the long term.

“When families with disabled children are denied initial support after diagnosis, are denied services due to restrictive eligibility criteria or lose frontline support from short breaks, they are much more likely to reach breaking point and require costly crisis intervention such as residential care,” the report said.

According to the report, the cost of a residential placement for a disabled child is £2,428 a week. A recent government impact report set the cost of frontline short-break services at £6,635 a year for each child.

EDCM’s report also revealed sector concerns about the removal of ring-fenced funding for Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) short breaks.

“Although the government may not have cut AHDC money or carers’ grant directly, by not ring-fencing either, services for disabled children are still very vulnerable,” a disabled children’s practitioner told EDCM. “The 30% cut in the area-based grant is already impacting on the carers’ grant now and may well on AHDC funding next year.”

The Council for Disabled Children raised concerned that children and their families were losing support that they saw as a lifeline. “This report shows that local areas are making the decision to cut services in anticipation that there will be no funding for frontline services when the AHDC programme comes to an end in March 2011,” said CDC director Christine Lenehan.

“We welcome assurances from Sarah Teather, minister of state for children and families, that disabled children are at the heart of what this government is doing.”

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