Written evidence submitted by Disabled Children's Partnership
EDUCATION COMMITTEE: THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON EDUCATION AND CHILDREN’S SERVICES
EVIDENCE FROM THE DISABLED CHILDREN’S PARTNERSHIP
Survey of parent carers
- Caring in lockdown
- Information and support
- Health and social care
- Education and learning
- Work and work
- What could government to do help now and with the transition from lockdown
Overall, it paints a picture of –
- increased caring load, both for parent carers and for disabled children's siblings.
- exhausted, stressed and anxious parents who feel abandoned by society. In many cases, the support families previously received has now stopped.
- declining mental and physical health for all members of the family
- parents being particularly concerned about the pressure of children's behaviour and mental wellbeing; managing home-schooling; and what will happen to their children if they contract Covid-19.
- the little support that had previously been provided for families often having stopped altogether
- negative impacts on children's friendships; learning and communications; mental and physical health: emotions and behaviour have all been negatively impacted.
- increasing financial pressures on families.
”The impact is huge: absolutely no break from caring. It’s really, really intense and quite overwhelming and you’re just left to it”
”It's like living in a pressure cooker. It's constantly and endlessly exhausting.”
“We now have no respite and no break from 24/7 care needs. We are all completely exhausted both physically and mentally.”
“I’m overpowered with guilt that I’m not supporting my other children as well as I should"
“It’s now time for government to stop treating parents of disabled kids as a forgotten underclass”
“My biggest fears are about how this will continue longer term”
“We have left completely alone. Not even a phone call.”
- 72% of parents said they are providing a lot more care compared with the amount before lockdown
- 68% said non–disabled siblings were also providing a lot more care
- 76% of those who were previously receiving support caring (such as short breaks/respite care) had seen it stop
- half of parents whose children had been received therapies or other extra support had seen this stop
- parents not having sought necessary medical health for their disabled children (44%), themselves or their partner (54%) or their non-disabled children (17%)
- 70-80% of parents reported worsening emotional and mental health for both their children and themselves; although a minority report improvements
- 45% said their disabled children's physical health had declined; and 54% the same about their own
- Many parents whose children were eligible for a school place had not taken up places; mainly because of either concerns about their children's health or because the right provision was not available.
- 64% of parents were worried about how much home school they were doing with their disabled child; and 32% said they were receiving no support specific to their child's needs from school; on the other hand, a quarter were getting good support
- two-thirds of children going through an assessment process had seen it delayed; whilst 43% of annual reviews had lapsed or been put on hold.
- Families faced financial pressures, through either, or both, a reduction in income (39%) or increased costs (61%). 21% will go into debt as a result
A system already in crisis
- 24% of parent carers of disabled children were provided more than 100 hours of care per week (Contact 2017)
- only 4% said they had sufficient support to care safely for their child (DCP, 2019)
- There is £1.5bn funding gap in health and social care for disabled children (DCP 2018)
What needs to happen now
- Disabled children and young people receiving a regular amount of funded support with care, emotional and physical well-being needs at home or in the community.
- The right support funded and in place for return of children to school – and for home schooling for those who cannot return – with the right support funded and in place
- Priority given to those children who cannot attend school due to complex health conditions or needing to shield with their families.
- Prioritise disabled children and their families, including by appointing a Minister for Disabled Children with responsibilities across government
- Review the existing guidance and legal framework for health and social care for disabled children; and ensure that the needs of disabled children and their families form part of the Department for Education’s Care Review.
- Provide additional money to fill the funding gap for health and social care services, and introduce a dedicated Disabled Children’s Innovation Fund
Disabled Children’s Partnership