Scope calls for minister for disabled children and families

Urgent call for Minister for Disabled Children and Families

  • 74% of parents of disabled children aged (0 to 5) have experienced negative comments by the public when they go out with their disabled child [1]
  • 42% of parents of disabled children (0 to 5 years) think there is a lot of prejudice against disabled children [1]
  • 43% of parents of disabled children aged 0 to 5 have described the experience of getting a diagnosis for their child as “anxiety inducing”. 55% of parents described it as “stressful” [1]

“Now is the time for Government to join the dots and appoint a new Minister,” says Scope.

Research by the disability equality charity Scope has found that the aspirations of the UK’s 1,000,000 disabled children and their families are at serious risk of hitting a brick wall [2].

The charity also found only a quarter (25%) of adults think that parents of a disabled child can have the same aspirations for their child as parents of non-disabled children [3].

Disability touches every aspect of a family’s life, from the emotional to the financial. But we know that 41% of parents of disabled children (aged 0 to 5) were not offered any emotional support during and after their child’s diagnosis [1]. A quarter (25%) of parents said they became more isolated at this time [1].

In response, Anna Bird, Director of Policy at Scope, says: “Parents of disabled children are being let down by a system and a society that is working against them not for them. This needs to change.

And, Scope is launching its Now Is The Time campaign that calls on Government to provide leadership on this issue, appoint a Minister for Disabled Children and Families, and promise families with disabled children more joined-up, robust support.

The new Minister would:

  • Provide an accountable focal point within Government who can champion issues facing disabled children and their families, bringing together relevant departments and bodies
  • Provide charities, businesses, disabled people’s organisations, disabled families, and the public with a focal point within Government
  • Enable the Prime Minister to send a clear signal of her Government’s commitment to disabled children, and optimise the effectiveness of policy implementation

Parents of disabled children told Scope:

“There is a lot of sneering and frowning and a lot of judgement… that’s enough to upset your whole day if you’re not strong enough”, Mum.

“We were waiting in the chemist in the seats. A little girl came and sat next to us, and her mum came and removed her from sitting next to us. I actually heard her say, ‘You can’t sit there. You don’t want to catch what he’s got”, Parent of a three-year-old boy

Dan White, father to Emily, 12 who has spina bifida and is a wheelchair user, said:

“Emily was our first leap into the world of disability. It was all brand new to us. There was very little support available to us around this time.

“There are a few leaflets kicking around but early on support was really bad.

“We were left in the wilderness and we tried to make the very best of the situation.

“Society in general needs to change. The world is built to disable you. We’re let down and left out all of the time.

“I want everyone to be included, particularly our children. They are all an essential part of society, whatever way they communicate.

“Our children need to be listened to and spoken to as equal members of society.”

Anna Bird, Director of Policy and Research at disability equality charity Scope, said:

“All parents have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and want the best for their children. Parents of disabled children are no different.

“Parents of disabled children are being let down by a system and a society that are working against them not for them.

“Our public services impact the lives of disabled families in many, many different ways – from health, care, and education to financial support and Government campaigns to change attitudes in society.

“Now is the time for Government to join the dots and appoint a new Minister.

“The Government needs to show families of disabled children they are not alone and appoint a Minister for Disabled Children and Families.”

Scope is launching a campaign today that says Now Is The Time for the Government to become a Disability Gamechanger, demonstrate that disabled families are not alone, and appoint a Minister for Disabled Children and Families.

Ends

Notes to the editor:

For more information contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email pressoffice@scope.org.uk.

We’re Scope, the disability equality charity. We won’t stop until we achieve a society where all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness. For more information go to the Scope website.

  1. Polling was conducted by Opinium between 18 to 25 May 2018 with representative sample of 200 parents of disabled children aged 0 to 5
  2. Family Resource Survey 2016/17 (ONS)
  3. The British Social Attitudes survey was conducted by NatCen between 19 April to 20 May 2018 with 2315 adults aged over 18 across Britain. The survey was conducted by telephone and online, with the sampling based on a random probability design.
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