AS the largest provider of grant assistance to families on low income and yet caring for very ill and disabled children in the UK, Family Fund welcomes the independent Parliamentary Inquiry announced on 1 May. This inquiry will look at care provision for disabled children.
It is the aim of the Inquiry to draw attention to the difficulties family face trying to access childcare.
The Inquiry is supported by Family Fund because we have had long-standing contact with families of disabled children and we know that access to care throughout England is not always consistent.
Parents of disabled children tell Family Fund that they struggle to source affordable and appropriate childcare for their children with additional needs. Parents state that finding a childcare setting or childminder that is trained to meet their child’s complex health and developmental needs is challenging. This means that family carers are often unable to take up work or study because they do not have the confidence in the support available, or the financial means to meet the additional costs of highly trained carers, who have limited availability. The Family Fund understands from families it supports that the lack of suitable and affordable childcare is a major barrier to families accessing employment and can often lead to families falling into poverty.
Family Fund will respond to Every Disabled Child Matters’ call for evidence on this issue, assisting the tens of thousands of families that it helps each year to have a voice on this crucial issue.
Michelle Barfoot a parent from Hampshire said:
“I used to work part-time, but had to give up work because I don’t have reliable childcare. As a part-time worker, I had to take time off when my son was ill or needed to attend appointments and this meant I was getting paid less and less and I was struggling to manage financially. As a lone parent, it is hard work to juggle employment and the care of a disabled child. Finding a childminder who is reliable and can meet my son’s needs (he is non-verbal) is almost impossible and I would need to feel confident that they could care for him in my absence – this wouldn’t happen overnight. My child doesn’t sleep well at all – today I have been up since 4am – so contemplating going to work when I am this tired is out of the question.”
Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive at Family Fund said:
“We hear all too often from parents and carers that we support of the day to day challenges they face in finding affordable childcare provision that meets the needs of their children. As a parent, I know that feeling safe and secure in your childcare arrangements is essential to a family’s well-being and a parent’s ability to work. Parents raising a child with a disability or serious illness should, regardless of where they live, be able to have high quality and competitively priced childcare alongside flexible and responsive working arrangements for parents and carers. That is why the Family Fund supports this Inquiry and the work of the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign.