DCP statement on the government’s education recovery plan – 02 June 2021
Today’s recovery plan does not meet the complex challenges that many disabled children and families have met during the pandemic. The focus of the plan is on the education that many children have missed out on, but countless disabled children and young people will not be able to benefit from this if their wider needs are not met.
This includes vital therapies such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy – which over 50% are still missing out on. Our research has showed that, without accessing these services, many children have seen their progress managing their condition worsen. There is nothing in this recovery plan that addresses this fact. Without accessing these therapies, many children simply will not be ready to learn.
Disabled children have also faced ongoing delays to accessing health appointments and medical treatments that they need to manage their conditions. Operations, medical equipment, and treatments have all been delayed – further hampering the development of many children. This recovery package also does nothing to address this.
There is also nothing in this plan to support families exhausted by the pressure the pandemic has placed on this. Over 80% of families with disabled children have seen delays to formal and informal care. This has resulted in both parents and children being far more socially isolated than the rest of the population, and parent carers suffering higher levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression. This plan does nothing to support families facing these stark crises.
The government states that this package should ensure that extra support is available for every disadvantaged child. But the absence of therapies and health services has caused disabled children and young people to fall behind in terms of speech, communication, social and motor skills. If disabled children can’t catch-up on this support, they will not be able to learn.
The Disabled Children’s Partnership is calling for dedicated catch-up funding in services for disabled children and families – such as therapies and respite – to address the disproportionate impact they have felt during the pandemic and to allow them to heal. In this autumn’s spending review, the government should not only fund this recovery but go further and commit to properly funding support the £434 million pre-pandemic gap in disabled children’s social care services. Disabled children should not only be able to heal from the pandemic, but also have the best possible chance to live a healthy and happy life in a post-COVID world.