Slow return of support – and parents concerned about school return

Slow return of support – and parents concerned about school return

August 2020

Over the last couple of months, the government has made a series of changes to the coronavirus restrictions as lockdown has eased.  At the same time, Ministers have asked local councils and providers to reinstate support for disabled children, young people and their families; and health professionals who were redeployed to respond to the pandemic have returned to their normal roles.

But what has this meant for disabled children, young people and their families?  It is now three months since our Left In Lockdown survey.  It painted a very bleak picture of life under the pandemic for families with disabled children.  Have things improved since then?

To help get a feel for this, we asked a short series of questions on twitter at the end of July and start of August.  These were not – and were not intended to be – as comprehensive or rigorous as our full survey; nor can we be sure they are as representative.  But they do offer some revealing insights.  We asked how parents felt about the return to school; whether support such as short breaks and therapies was being reinstated; how families felt about the ‘pausing’ of shielding; and availability of PPE.

Sadly, like our survey, the findings are sobering.  There are signs of progress – for example about half of parents reported short breaks had either continued during lockdown; had restarted or were planned to restart.  But more than 70% said they were still waiting for therapies to restart.  More than 9 in 10 parents said they had not had advice from a health professional about shielding.  And more than two thirds were not able to get the PPE they needed.

On returning to school, more than a third of parents told us they either would not be sending their children back to school; or they would waiting for more information and advice before deciding.  Only 21% were confident about the return to school.  And sadly several parents replied that they had no choice because their child had not been offered a school place.  As one parent said

“It is a horribly uncertain time… Child has been shielding until now. School will look almost the same as pre lockdown.  Heading into winter.  Threatened with fines if we feel he is safer at home.  What are the options?”

The full answers to our polls are below.  National government, local councils, the health service, schools and other providers must work together to provide the support families desperately need.