Your local council can provide help if you have a disabled child. This can include holiday play schemes, short break services, aids and adaptations, care at home and financial help. Under the Children Act 1989, your council has a duty to provide these services. Some of them will be free, others you will have to pay towards. If you believe that your child qualifies for this help, be sure to contact your local social services. They will then speak to you about the needs of your family, with matters such as health, education and social care- this is known as a needs assessment. If your child does qualify for services from the council, you will have the option of receiving direct payments which can be given directly to you to help arrange the services that you need.
The council’s Family Information Service can provide you with details about childcare in your local area. You can also ask them to recommend any specialist services that your child may need because of their disability.
All children aged 3 and 4 years are entitled to 15 hours of free education for 38 weeks out of the year. Some 2 year olds are also entitled. You can also get direct payments from the council to help with childcare.
If you happen to be on the Early Support Programme and have a Family File, you should show this to your childcare provider.
As a result of the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law for schools to purposely discriminate against disabled children. This means a school can’t refuse admission to a disabled child on account of their disability, nor can they stop a disabled pupil going outside at lunch time because it takes them longer to get there. Lastly, a teacher can’t shout at a disabled child if their disability means that they have trouble understanding in class. If you think that your child has been discriminated against because of their disability, you should contact the Equality Advisory support service.
Schools also have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils. This can include physical changes, such as ramps, changes to how learners are assessed and providing extra support and aids, such as specialist teachers or equipment.
You can also ask your council to carry out a special educational needs assessment on your child to see if their disability affects how they learn. You can also ask to see a school’s special education needs policy to see what support they can offer.
The Motability Scheme can assist you in leasing a car if your child is aged 3 and over, and is entitled to either the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, or the enhanced mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment.
If your home has to be adapted to meet your disabled child’s needs, you may be eligible to receive a Disabled Facilities Grant to assist with the cost. Generally, an occupational therapist will talk to you to help work out which adaptations would be most beneficial for your child. This won’t affect any benefits that you are already getting.