The meeting unveiled a lot of issues that Embrace and the parents present thought were crucial and we may only be scratching the surface but it was great to see Alan Shuttleworth keen to support us resolve some of these and was very willing to look further into them.
There are 770,00 disabled children under the age of 16 in the UK. That equates to 1 child in every 20 and only 8% of families are getting support from their local social services. It can cost up to three times as much to raise a disabled child as it does to raise a child without disabilities. (Source)
Alan Shuttleworth is member of East Sussex County Council Children's' Services Scrutiny committee as well as Cabinet member at Eastbourne a Borough Council. He came down as part of the Care for the Carer’s initiative in carers week this week to allow us to voice our opinions and concerns. He showed great enthusiasm towards our work and was eager to listen to Embrace.
Care for the Carers is an independent charity and have been supporting unpaid careers in East Sussex since 1989. Their team of staff and volunteers can provide free practical & emotional advice – face to face, by telephone, or online. They can also put you in touch with other carers, and offer a range of groups, training and events across the county.
The main point that seemed to come across, from Embrace and the parents, was a communication breakdown and that a lot more team work between the Local Authority, schools and parents is needed for a better result. Embrace was lead to believe that there may be a lack of staff, training and funding with regard to the Local Authority and the Schools as well. However, it is the families and children that are being affected the most, with what seems like to Embrace and the families, a lack of care and urgency from the authorities.
Embrace got the impression that a lot of children are refused help by the Local Authority at at a very early stage and many parents do not realise their rights. One parent suggested that only 10% of cases are pushed forward to mediation or appeal which results in tribunal cases and further spending. Once presented to the tribunals a majority of cases, around 85%, are ruled in favour of the parents or family and therefore the council has further costs to cover.
Embrace were also shocked to discover that the children that are refused, will most likely end up in prison or in a mental health unit because they have not been give the full care and attention they need, especially when it comes to education. Embrace has been led to believe that many schools, certainly in Eastbourne, are unable to cope with these children and do not have a basic school based plan in place for children that are struggling with the mainstream environment because of their disability. A few parents present have had first hand experience of this and shared their feelings.
Overall, it was clear that we are just scratching the surface of this problem and that a lot more research is needed to get to the bottom of it. However, now that it has been brought to the attention of Alan Shuttleworth, who is passionate about the subject as well, we hope we may see some changes. At least we hope to see some movement in the right direction. We can not thank Alan enough for taking the time to come and sit with Embrace and some family members to discuss these issues. He listened intently and completely understood our needs and concerns with the hope to do some more research and investigation into the matters.
Member since: 28th May 2015
Embrace East Sussex is a group for Special Needs and disabled children from the age of 0 25 years. We offer family support, Saturday Clubs, a legal and benefits services, Early Years advice, family liaison...