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Stroud MP champions disabled children’s post-Covid services with minister


Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has written to the children’s minister asking for the Government to support a holistic Covid-19 recovery plan for disabled children and their families.

Siobhan told Vicky Ford in the letter that constituents have been in touch regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the group.

She said research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) found over 80% of both formal and informal support for families has declined in the pandemic.

This included support from local authorities, schools, as well as from friends and families. 70% of disabled children have also been unable to access support through therapies and health appointments.

“As a result, more than half of parents said their child’s condition had worsened and their development halted – with one respondent simply telling the DCP: ‘My child has regressed irretrievably, I despair he will ever be able to catch up’,” Siobhan wrote.

The minister was also told that the negative impact on the mental wellbeing of parents and their children as a result of Covid has been substantial with social isolation and increased anxiety common.

“I warmly welcome the Government’s recent announcements of funding for children via both the ‘Catch Up Premium’ and the new ‘Recovery Premium’,” the letter said.

“I was also pleased to see you place an emphasis on supporting children with SEND and your statements on therapists being able to visit schools; as well as the additional weighting for pupils with SEND in special schools and special units in mainstream schools.

“However, I am concerned that this will not address all the impacts of the pandemic on disabled children and their families.  None of the money available to schools through these premiums is ring-fenced to disabled children or for services such as therapies.

“This means there is no guarantee that school leadership teams will decide to direct this money to disabled children and their families given the many competing priorities they will face.

“It would be very helpful to know how the Government intends to monitor the gap between the provision of services it says should be happening, and the lived experience of families on the ground.

“While I welcome the positive steps the government is taking, I – and charities that represent disabled children – are concerned that they will not be enough.

“We need a holistic Covid-19 recovery plan that provides support for burnt out families suffering from poor mental health, and makes up for the absence of therapies which has impacted on their physical development and opportunities to develop vital life skills.”

Siobhan added she has spoken to Gloucestershire County Council regarding provision for disabled children and their families.

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