by Cherie Blair[!]
... Four in 10 disabled children live in poverty; children with special educational needs (SEN) are 9 times more likely to be permanently excluded from school; and 3/4 of families with disabled children experience poor mental health as a result of the social, emotional, and financial isolation they face.
To put it simply, they are at crisis point.
And at the heart of this issue is the critical lack of support for disabled children within their own community, support that other families simply take for granted – be it access to the right school or nursery place, or to leisure activities they can enjoy.
Recent research by the disability charity Scope has found that two thirds of families with disabled children cannot get this most basic state and local authority support in their own area. Instead they have to travel or stay away from home, often creating many more difficulties in terms of increased time and costs for families that are already struggling.
David Cameron recently said ‘When you’ve had the privilege of bringing up a profoundly disabled child, you suddenly realise there are two different sets of places: those that are disabled-friendly, that are accessible, that are helpful; and those that aren’t… And what this all about really, is greater equality in our country, making sure that all places are more friendly, and accessible to disabled people.’
But this welcome and undoubtedly genuine sentiment is sadly nowhere to be seen in the reforms in the Children and Families Bill. The Government must rectify this if families with disabled children are to be included in David Cameron’s vision to be most ‘family friendly government ever’.