Families with disabled children struggling to find childcare information
Families with children who are disabled or have special educational needs are not getting the right information on childcare, according to a report. In many areas, mothers and fathers are in the dark on how to access specialist care for their children, the report said. The Family and Childcare Trust's report found that just one in five (20%) councils explain the duty of childcare providers to make "reasonable adjustments" for children with disabilities. Ellen Broome, deputy chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: "Our report shows that while some local authorities are providing parents with excellent information, very few provide the comprehensive information and advice parents need." Every authority must have a "local offer", the report says, which includes giving parents clear, up-to-date information about support and services and how to access them. This includes free early education and childcare. They must take into account disabled children and those with special educational needs as well as their families. Around three quarters (74%) had a directory of childcare listings that were available through the local offer, and had relevant special educational needs and disability (SEND) information. A lower proportion, around half, (51%) had a directory that allowed nurseries and childminders to include their own information, such as accessible facilities and specialist training. "The quality of these listings varied widely and most did not include details of when they were last updated," the report warns. James Robinson, policy and strategic lead for children and young people at Mencap, said: "For many parents with a disabled child, including children with a learning disability, finding childcare can be a particular struggle. "These findings highlight yet another in a long list of factors that restricts parents' access to high quality and appropriate childcare." A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "Our reforms to special educational needs and disabilities support - the biggest in a generation - made it clear that councils must provide details of the support available locally, so that parents can access the information they need. "We are supporting councils to do this by giving them £223 million of additional funding over four years to implement the reforms."