New DCP report: Disabled children and their families still reeling from impact of pandemic 18 months on

3 mins read

Friday 10 September 2021

Tags: isolation, research, support withdrawn, MP support

A devastating study into the situation for disabled children and their families over the course of the pandemic has found they are still reeling from its impact 18 months on.

The Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), of which Contact is a leading member, has carefully tracked the impact for disabled children and their families over the last six months, regularly surveying a panel of 840 parents and sending Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to NHS Trusts and local authorities.

It found:

  • Nine out ten disabled children were socially isolated, with three-quarters (76%) seeing no improvement over the course of 2021 despite lockdown measures easing.
  • Parents of disabled children experienced significantly worse stress and isolation than the general population.
  • 71% of parents say their child’s progress has reversed or regressed during the pandemic.
  • There was an increase in urgent referrals to children’s mental and physical health services – 60% increase in referrals to paediatric emergency mental health services
  • There was a 40% reduction in paediatric surgery during the pandemic.

Amanda Batten, Chair of DCP and Chief Executive of Contact, said: “It is shocking that disabled children and young people were mainly overlooked when considering the impact of the virus and withdrawal of support. And this has had devastating consequences, with disabled children’s hard fought gains in managing their condition now stalled or reversed and families’ feelings of being left out continuing 18 months after the pandemic started.”

In response to the appalling findings published today in the Then There Was Silence report, the DCP is urging the government to plug the hole in funding for disabled children’s services to tackle the backlog in assessments for physical and mental health support, therapies and equipment.

MPs attend parliamentary launch of the report

To mark the launch of this vital research, DCP has organised a parliamentary event today (Friday 10 September) hosted by Mary Foy MP and being attended by over 60 cross-party MPs and Peers. There will be a briefing on the report and an opportunity to listen to the lived experiences of disabled young people and parent carers.

A parent’s view

Linda Taylor Cantrill, from Exmouth, Devon, is mum to seven-year-old twins. Reddington has complex needs including visual and hearing impairment and Teddy is autistic.

She said: “I have come to think of children with special needs like my sons as “throwaway children” because that’s how the system treats them. They are an inconvenience and just figures on spreadsheets – not living, breathing children with potential. Even before lockdown, the entire system that was supposed to support them worked against them. It is so complicated it’s a full-time job for a parent to fight for their child and slash through the red tape.

“The Then There Was Silence report reveals what parents know all too well – we were abandoned in the pandemic and our children are still paying the cost. The Chancellor has a chance now to change this situation for the better and fund support for families who are on their knees.”

How you can help the campaign

If you haven’t already done so, please add your signature to Maureen’s open letter calling on the Chancellor to fund disabled children’s services ahead of the Spending Review on 27 October.

You can also share social posts by the DCP and Contact about the report on Twitter and Facebook today.