Ministers are being urged to review care provided for children with disabilities following research into the adequacy of support for families. Children’s commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson called the findings “heart-rending” and “disturbing”.
The report suggested some families were unable to afford basic necessities for “a dignified life”. The Department for Work and Pensions said the report contained “a small sample, presenting a partial picture”.
The study, carried out by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for the children’s commissioner, found evidence that poverty meant some disabled children were not living lives that met international human rights standards. Ms Atkinson said the research findings were “not an easy read”.
“This is about voicelessness and powerlessness, as well as about making ends meet,” she said. “It’s very poignant and very difficult to hear the stories. Money issues are very real and very challenging, but parents are equally saying they have little or no say in the ways services are planned and provided, from transport to access to youth, or play or leisure which is properly adapted for one’s disability.”
The research was based on interviews and group discussions with 78 disabled children and young people and 17 parents. It was co-led by a team of 11 disabled children and young people working with the university. A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions rejected some of the conclusions.
Ms Atkinson acknowledged the government’s response, but stressed some of the “personal stories” she had heard painted a different picture. She said: “I would like some of the officials who have no doubt written that statement to come and meet some of the young people, who will tell the very true story of living with a disability on a very low income, and then I would ask them to say that again.”
Despite the criticism, researchers found “many examples” of disabled children receiving good care and services which they said “demonstrate how low income does not have to be a barrier”.
Source: BBC NEWS
13th October 2013