A GOVERNMENT review into support for children with special education needs has been welcomed by charities, who warn families must be at the heart of reforms.
Together with the Disabled Children’s Partnership, The Sun has been urging the Government to pay back the £434 million annual shortfall in support and care for disabled children and their families.
Is your family affected by the cuts to funding? Tell us your story. Email: [email protected]
Earlier this week, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a welcome boost of £700 million for special needs education next year as well as a £1.5 billion social care package.
And today a major review into support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been announced.
The aim is to improve services for families and to stop a ‘postcode lottery’ for kids who need support, equipment and staffing help in schools.
When we launched Give It Back this year, we demanded that support for families with disabled kids in different local areas should be consistent.
While there is still a long way to go before families of kids have the help they deserve, it is a step in the right direction – the Government is listening to us.
Amanda Batten, Chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership and Chief Executive of Contact said: “We welcome the review announced today. It’s right that five years since the SEND reforms were introduced the government takes stock and assesses how they’ve been implemented, and what impact they are having in meeting the challenges faced by the families we support.
“It’s vital that parent carers are at the heart of this review – their confidence and engagement is essential to improving the system. We look forward to working with the government as the review progresses.”
GIVE IT BACK
Why we demand the Government helps families with disabled kids:
Disabled children and their families are desperately struggling because of a lack of support.
We want the Government to reinstate the £434m of funding it has cut from early intervention services – such as respite care and vital equipment.
It is time for the Government to Give It Back.
The number of disabled children in the UK has risen to nearly 1 million over the past 10 years – up by a third.
But funding and support has been cut.
Families with some of the most vulnerable children in the country are struggling to cope.
That’s why we’re working with the Disabled Children’s Partnership to help them.
Together we can make a real difference and hugely improve the lives of disabled children and their families.
We want you to share your stories, email us on [email protected]
Please sign Ollie’s letter to put pressure on the Government to act now.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, also responded to the review, saying: “It’s important to assess whether the system is currently working in the best interests of SEND children and their families.
“We welcome this review and we hope it will result in smoother, joined up working between education, health and care services and enable parents to work more collaboratively with local decision-makers to ensure children have the best support.”
The new review aims to ensure vulnerable children have the same opportunities as anyone else, while their families get the support they so desperately need to.
“I want parents to know that we’re committed to boosting outcomes and ensuring the right support is in place for children with special educational needs, by breaking down the barriers to a good education and making sure the system works for families,” Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said.
In 2014 the Government launched Education Health and Care plans, aimed to help 350,000 children with the most complex special educational needs get educational support.
This review will examine how things have changed since then, and ensure there is a level playing field for kids who need help across the UK.
While The Sun is pleased this area is being examined, much more must be done.
Research shows only four per cent of families with a disabled child feel they have the right support.
A lack of support, including access to education and respite care, often results in families splitting up and parents suffering mental health problems.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Contact A Family Support And Advice, 0808 808 3555
Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) – for specialist legal advice
Newlife – a charity that provides help with equipment
GOV.UK – to understand your child’s entitlements
National Autistic Society
youngSibs – great advice for brothers and sisters of a disabled child
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Vickey Kowal, whose seven-year-old son Ollie has an ultra-rare genetic condition, said: “I feel like we are the forgotten people.
“People only see parents of disabled children on our good days. They don’t see our bad days and when we’re struggling.
“It’s not good enough that time and time again, the most vulnerable people in society aren’t supported as they should be.”
Vickey launched Give It Back with an open letter to the Chancellor, which has reached nearly 20,000 signatures and can be signed here.