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Childcare for disabled children

(31 Posts)
uniquekidzmum Mon 13-Jun-11 20:22:57

Hi I live in Lancaster area in lancashire and wondered if any of you have problems finding suitable childcare?
I have 2 boys with SEN , 2 years ago me and my friend got together and fed up with nothing suitable for our kids we set up an After school and Holiday club for children with special needs at the special school our children attend. We now have 115 children on the register and got "outstanding" in our first ofsted inspection. We take children ages 3-19 and their siblings. We have never been able to find anyone else doing hings on the scale we have and wondered what else is out there in other parts of the country.

madwomanintheattic Mon 13-Jun-11 20:37:58

in hants we used (i no longer live there) to run out of school activity programmes and a summer holiday scheme with 1-1 (or even more in some cases) care.

tbh we rather hoped that the extended schools programme would remove this responsibility away from the voluntary sector. parents of children with disabilities ought to be able to access suitable childcare, rather than organise it themselves <sigh> however successfully!

but kudos for getting on with it and making it a viable setting.

we also used to (again, they still do, i'm just not there any longer) sponsor an sn only performance of the local town panto, and sell tickets only to children with disabilities and their immediate family at huge discount. we provided drink, snack and light-up toy, and the performances were often changed subtley to remove any innapropriate content (flashing lights/ extreme noise ie thunder/ lightning/ storm). we used to remove an entire block of seats to increase wheelchair spaces. the panto crew always said the best performance was the sn one. they used to come out afterwards so the kids could get photos taken.

it was pretty much the only way that some kids could access a panto - there was no tutting if your child made noise, no tutting for kids who needed to go out and come back in twelve times, just understanding, and at such a reduced price that even if you lasted five minutes before you had to leave, at least it didn't break the bank.

we also used to put on family events in other holidays. ran festivals etc. dance, drumming, brilliant sn sound wall, (fab 'ballet for you'), drama, craft.

i just think it's a crying shame that so often these things are put together by unpaid volunteers who are ordinarily carers themselves. but i suppose that's what happens when capable parents are unable to hold down f/t demanding jobs because of their caring responsibilities!

<wanders off to throw darts at big society poster>

uniquekidzmum Mon 13-Jun-11 21:00:24

Hi the panto sounds brill . I know it is sad it's taken to mad mum's 2 do it but in the end even though we have prob aged about 10 years in last 3 lol it's been worth it. We had to fight against professionals who wanted us to do an inclusive setting and didn't think the "parents" could do it . We are both stubborn and determined so that just made us worse ! Nice to know there's other people like us out there ! Big society sounds good as they think it's cheap option - we will tell David Cameron if we ever meet him , we are badgering our MP for a trip to Westminster to see how many people we can upset there !

Calally Tue 14-Jun-11 20:38:46

im hoping someone will correct me if im wrong. i live in belfast, ds is 5. im struggling to find any sort of childcare for him. there are a few saturday clubs, with huge waiting lists ( although may get lucky with 1 ). any of the summer schemes etc child must be 8, and if needs 1 2 1, then must have an adult with them. there are a few new after school / holiday clubs opened recently, but none have the funding or staff to be able to give ds 1 2 1 sad

unpa1dcar3r Tue 14-Jun-11 20:43:34

Did write a bit of a long post earlier but MN disappeared so basically to reiterate, well done on setting up such a fab group Unique and please please move to North wales!!!!

Calally Tue 14-Jun-11 20:54:58

yes, new i forgot 2 mention something on my post. your doing such a good thing, big well done. and if you feel like relocating to belfast, make sure you tell me lol

UniS Tue 14-Jun-11 21:10:01 SN afterschool , holiday and saturday clubs in Devon.!/photo.php?fbid=465791794911&set=o.59249056999&type=1&theater another saturday club.

runningonmt Tue 14-Jun-11 21:49:59

Well done for doing something great for so many children - It is fantasic what you have achieved and to get "outstanding" from ofsted is a real feather in your cap.

I have found nothing in my area (Essex/Suffolk border) to suit my DS (ADHD with some autistic tendancies too) and holidays are always a major problem for me. I work 4 days a week. If he was more obviously disabled I feel we would have more possibly options and certainly more help. He is highly active and would not fit in with children that are not fully able bodied (sorry if that is not PC but I have to be honest about what would suit my DS) so we have always had to go down the "traditional" holiday club route. Because he has behavioural problems, dispite explaining his dx, he gets threatened with exclusion quite quickly which unsupprisingly makes his behaviour worse not better.

I have always worked almost f/time dispite being a single parent (and he doesnt have any meaningful contact with his dad - he has only seen him for a couple of hours in the last 12 months) so it is down to me to make sure I have suitable child care for the holidays which is expensive and hard to find. He has got 9 weeks off school coming up and the club we used last year only runs for 4 weeks in the summer only.

It would be nice if there was something in my area for chilldren with less severe difficulties as it doesnt work very well in "normal" holiday clubs but doesnt 'fit' into clubs for kids with more severe difficulties -

Friends tend not to offer to have him very often as he can be very hard work and family have their own children to look after in the holidays. Any advise for my situation would be greatfully received.

madwomanintheattic Tue 14-Jun-11 23:13:27

leas do occasionally have pots of money for less disabled children to attend ms after-school clubs etc. dd2 accessed it for her after school club in hants. often it is a reasonably small pot and so isn't publicised as it would disappear, but it is often worth asking... (running, these days dd2 is largely 'walking wounded' so doesn't fit into settings for more complex youth - that said, she uses the specialist sports settings etc)

most holiday clubs are able to offer advice on additional support funding if you let them know far enough in advance of booking.

i would also recommend activities like beavers/ cubs/ scouts for children wtih adhd type difficulties/ or behavioural/ or as/asd. it's only an hour or so, but it can be enormously rewarding (and think of the camps!!!)

madwomanintheattic Tue 14-Jun-11 23:16:47

obv that doesn't help with the day to day running!
have you discussed extended schools with your lea? i know it's all pretty much been blown out of the water by the cuts, but some areas are still pushing ahead. i do think it's imortant for councils to reminded that this provision really is their responsibility.

we set up our own parent action group. it started as a small group of 6 parents of children with difficulties, and ended up with over a hundred families on the books and regularly accessing our services. as a lobby group we were a 'heard' voice in the area. maybe find out if you have one already? or start your own...

BakeliteBelle Tue 14-Jun-11 23:30:32

BakeliteBelle Tue 14-Jun-11 23:31:07

runningonmt Tue 14-Jun-11 23:32:48

madwoman you are reading my mind - I have been seriously thinking about starting a support group as I know there are so many parents out there in the same situation as me and we must all be struggling to find the help we need - but I am so wary of taking on more responsibilities at the moment as life is so hectic here with just trying to keep my head above water - as I stupidly put my son in private education last year EVERYTHING seems to be 'unavailable' to us - we now dont appear to exist. He joins our local comp in a few months time so perhaps things will get better then.

'walking wounded' is such an acurate description [sigh]. DS is 11 yrs so thinks scouts etc.... is 'uncool' but perhaps that is just his excuse to avoid having to integrate into another setting with 'unfamiliar' kids - he is pretty antisocial like that but I think that is due to his anxiety with new settings.

runningonmt Tue 14-Jun-11 23:34:02

.... think of the camps ................ if only ......... grin

madwomanintheattic Wed 15-Jun-11 00:32:24

how can rock climbing, abseiling, white water kayaking, lighting fires and cooking sausages in the middle of nowhere be uncool? travelling overseas without your parents? putting a few bits in a rucksack and disappearing into the mountains for the weekend? i have this conversation with other leaders all the time - it is truly bizarre! same with air cadets - really lame. riiiiight. my sister soloed a powered glider before she ever had a driving lesson - how can that not be cool?! she flew a damn plane! on her own! with no adults! <tries not to think of the insurance>

'cool' has a lot to answer for.

uniquekidzmum Wed 15-Jun-11 12:30:07

Hi everyone thanks for replies , we got funding through Surestart Early Years and childcare as it had shown up on the childcare sufficency data that there was no childcare for disabled children in the County.
A lot of the children have learning disabilites , ASD , ADHD and we take children without a diagnosis , any child can come as long as they have been identified as needing extra support. We also take siblings as well so parents can drop all their children at one place .We work on a 1:3 staffing ratio.
I won't lie finding funding is hard work but we do charge parents the same as mainstream clubs but they are getting specialist care and we have invested a lot in staff training.
Here is our email link
Some of our parents have gone back to work as we are open every night term time and all school holidays.
Tell your LEAS we will provide consultancy!!

PS don't laugh at our pics on website !

BakeliteBelle Wed 15-Jun-11 12:32:09

What happens to those children who need 1:1 support?

uniquekidzmum Wed 15-Jun-11 13:56:31

Hi we only have have a small number of children who need 1:1 these have complex medical needs or extreme challenging behaviour and put them sleves or others at risk or have moving and handling needs are wheelchair users with severe/profound learning disabilites and would struggle to access any play without help.
We have managed to secure funding for some of these children for extra support paid for via social services if they have come to us via that route.

madwomanintheattic Wed 15-Jun-11 15:56:33

and all of our staff were volunteers. grin <don't even ask...> as i said upthread though, some leas do have a pot of money that can be used to access.

dd2's 1-1 used to attend the after school club with her.

<i know you weren't asking me, lol, but every area is completely different. our summer scheme used to take children who needed 2 carers - usually the bigger ones with behavioural issues smile - in this instance ss usually retained a portion of the respite hours for the child across the year to fund - obviously with the parent's permission!>

BakeliteBelle Wed 15-Jun-11 16:20:31

The childcare charity I highlighted earlier has a lot of children who need 1:1 (all paid) but needs an awful lot of money to keep going. It is however, an excellent example of how it can be done, should anyone be thinking of starting up an inclusive childcare scheme for severely disabled children.

It amazes me that childcare for disabled children is not a government or Local Authority priority. We closed the institutions down in the 1980's but still expect parents to be jobless carers, for children without meaningful activities.

madwomanintheattic Wed 15-Jun-11 17:04:48

it's horrific, belle. but at the moment the gap is being covered by tose jobless carers <sigh> so and there is no impetus for change at all.

even with the extended schools malarkey, there were organisations queuing up to provide before/ after clubs at ms. the sn schools were a sort of 'also-ran' that no-one was interested in providing for. that's not to say that some settings don't provide this service despite utter lack of interest from local authoritys and the gov't, but it's a travesty, really.

it makes me so cross that the voluntary sector end up taking the brunt of the work for social care. parents are a whole other ball game. i've never qualified for carer's allowance because i had the temerity to have a part time job. <sigh> talk about ideas above my station.

uniquekidzmum Wed 15-Jun-11 17:14:35

I agree mad woman - like I said we had to fight to get the backing for ours but we were lucky we had fab develpment workers form surestart , it is by law a prority that all LA's should be providing accesible childcare for all .

We had the little bit's going on in our area but not regular enough to go to work or study.

As for the cost of running our setting our staff bill is massive and we will never break even off fees alone , but it can be done and it is what it is, our children do cost more to provide the right care and they deserve to be able to play with their friends and paly outside of school.

We are always on our soap box about it !! sorry I will stop ranting now - we have been to a few conferences where we will be rememebered as it drives us nuts when all the professionals talk about what the prorities are but not much happens!

Any one heard of the Dcatch project through aiming high for disabled children?

LeninGrad Wed 15-Jun-11 17:19:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BakeliteBelle Wed 15-Jun-11 17:28:03

'it is by law a prority that all LA's should be providing accesible childcare for all'

unique, why is it then that lots of local authorities are quite obviously breaking the law?! I would love to know why this is never enforced and why the charities who purport to be standing up for the rights of disabled children and adults, are not helping parents make legal challenges.

I always think that if I win the lottery (which I don't do), I would start a legal service for families with disabled children and seriously whip some arses

uniquekidzmum Wed 15-Jun-11 17:30:12

Where are you ? We would love to see what we have set up being set up in other counties!

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