Respite care for families with disabled children

Mumsnet and Every Disabled Child Matters are joining forces to ensure families with disabled children get the support they have been promised.

On 19 January 2011, a Mumsnet member, Riven, posted on our Talk boards that she felt the lack of respite help - short breaks for her and her daughter - left her with no choice but to ask social services to take her disabled daughter into residential care.

Thousands of Mumsnetters were driven to respond, Facebook and tweet about Riven's plight, resulting in headline coverage in the national media and a statement from Downing Street that the prime minister David Cameron would be writing Riven a letter.

In Riven's follow-up statement, she called for the government to take action to protect all carers, lamenting that extra government cash for respite care would not be 'ringfenced', and could therefore be used for anything that local authorities chose to use it for.

LATEST NEWS: We're delighted that our campaign is being supported by the key organisations working with disabled children: Scope, Sense, Mencap, Barnardo's, Action For Children, the National Autistic Society, Contact A Family, KIDS, the Council for Disabled Children, The Children's Trust, The Family Fund, Whizz-Kidz and Treehouse, the autism education charity. See their messages of support here.

While we fully understand the argument for local decisions to be taken locally, we believe there are some people who are too vulnerable and, let's face it, too exhausted to fight their own corner. It's worrying that their care and support will be left to the discretion of local officials who, given the local authority budget cuts, are increasingly going to come under competing funding pressures.

Every Disabled Child MattersSo we are partnering with Every Disabled Child Matters to urge local authorities to tell us how much money they will be spending on short breaks for families with disabled children in 2010/11.

When we know what is really happening in local areas, we will consider urging national Government to ring-fence the £800 million promised for short breaks by David Cameron's government.

"The Vincent family challenges a central theme of the spending review. It shows the limits of passing responsibility - and the dangers of what Nick Boles MP celebrated as the constructive 'chaos' being unleashed in public services." 
FT, 20 January 2011

To get the campaign off to a strong start, email your local authority and find out how they are planning to spend the funding.

If you're caring for a disabled child, or know someone who is, keep us up to date with their stories so we can see whether money earmarked for respite care is getting through.

"There is a real apathy around disabled services and it is because of this that the government are able to get away with making a display of giving Local Authorities money for them, but not ringfencing it. Whilst other cuts are going on councils are going to fill those holes first, as they usually do." 


Why are short respite breaks important?  Short breaks are a basic service for families to enable them to lead ordinary lives. Caring for a disabled child can be a full-time job. Families don't want a lot - they want to be able to take a trip to the shops, to have a bath and a night's sleep. 

Short breaks also give disabled children fun things to do with their friends. They provide parents and carers of disabled children with a break from their caring responsibilities. They allow parents to dedicate time to their other children. Most important, they help families to stay together.

Last updated: over 5 years ago