From the BBC…
Ministers are being urged to review care provided for children with disabilities following research into the adequacy of support for families.
Children’s commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson called the findings “heart-rending” and “disturbing”.
The report suggested some families were unable to afford basic necessities for “a dignified life”.
The Department for Work and Pensions said the report contained “a small sample, presenting a partial picture”.
The study, carried out by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for the children’s commissioner, found evidence that poverty meant some disabled children were not living lives that met international human rights standards.
The BBC is normally extremely good (for a media outlet) in terms of giving out its sources for reports, but it’s dropped the ball a little bit here. The article doesn’t give the title of the report (indeed, on the subject of titles it demotes Dr Atkinson to ‘Ms’) , or any details about the staff at UCLan who put it together. I’m pressuming it’s not actually this report, which is by Dr Atkinson, and is currently top link on the Children’s Commissioner’s website. There is a link to ‘a Press Release: Children’s Commissioner calls for review of support to disabled children‘ but that takes me to a blank page.
Eventually I find the report, with Apologies to Dr Atkinson I’m going to post the foreword in full, partly because it’s beutifully written and partly because it really nails a host of issues…
That some children and young people in England live in poverty is, I hope, not disputed. What we are prepared to do about it, how badly it affects the rights of the children concerned, and whether anybody is listening to them, are subjects on which we agree rather less. But we should be under no illusion: children affected by the challenges of their families living with poverty are acutely aware what that poverty means for them. They have experiences to share, and opinions to express. And they have a right to be heard. It is from that right that our research, and this report, now spring.
The children whose research and recommendations are presented here are particularly affected by the impact of living in low income families and communities. Their families’ struggles to make ends meet and yet still live, and provide their children with, a dignified life are compounded by the fact that some children also have a range of disabilities. These can limit what they can do in their lives generally, and basic things such as where they can go to school. Such challenges are considerable, even in families living in comfortable financial and social circumstances. For those living in poverty, they are profound, and can become insurmountable.
Our researchers worked innovatively to make the children working with them into co‐researchers of what you will read in this important report. This publication is enhanced by the children whose lives feature in it, who were centrally involved in the research and the production of this report. The university academics who led this work on my behalf, bringing their evidence‐based research skills and their background in the wealth of existing literature on poverty and childhood, have ensured the voices of the children sit at the core of the report. Their lives, and their words, ring out from this work, and rightly so.
What you will discover in the following pages is not an easy read. I make no excuses for that fact. I do not accept that for all our claims of civilised sophistication as a country, we still have families who, like that of one mum featured, will be in debt until 2022 or later because they are, quite simply, poor. This is a scandal.
As a nation, we continue to be either unwilling or unable to intervene in this issue in ways that bring such poverty to an end. It is not – it has never been – right that this continues.
This report continues to add my voice, and that of my office, to the urgings of so many organisations that policymakers do not just talk about poor families and wonder how to help them. We need action to end the national shame that is the continued existence of child poverty.
I am proud that the voices of children whose lives are directly and negatively affected by the issues you will find in this report speak so loudly to us all. With me, they present their obvious need, and their equally obvious call: that we act now to make it better and secure both their present, and their future.
The report is full of facts:
Families with disabled children have also lost more of their household income compared to the average loss experienced by all families with children – a drop of 4.7% and 3.3% respectively of household income as a result of tax and welfare reforms between 2010 and 2015.
…and haunting personal stories:
“He’ll always stay with me… I always say to my daughter if anything happens to me and your dad, I says if you ever get married you take in Parviz. It is a worry, I mean you worry, there’s no guarantee of life is there? Let’s say my husband could get ill and then what? You know, who’s going to take care of [my son]?”
I encourage everybody to read it in full.