The Disabled Children’s Partnership

Together with more than 100 charities and thousands of parents, we are campaigning to make disabled children a priority with Government. We want improvements to social care funding and the law. 

Disabled children and their families should have a right to access the services and support they need to live a good quality of life and have the same opportunities as any other family. 

But this simply isn’t happening. Disabled children face four big challenges. 

Simple tasks such as visiting a park, going to school or doing the weekly shop are often extremely challenging and, in some cases, impossible for families with disabled children.

This leads to an unacceptable contrast between the quality of life and the opportunities available to disabled children and their families, compared to those without disabilities.

This is an injustice and must change. 

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.

“We were abandoned in the pandemic and our children are still paying the cost. The government has a chance now to change this situation for the better and fund support for families who are on their knees.”

Left in Lockdown campaign

In June 2020 we published shocking research which shows most families have been left in lockdown without any vital care or support. 

Our study Then there was Silence reveals the devastating – and continuing – impact of the pandemic on disabled children and their families. As the country moves out of lockdown, disabled children and their families must not be left behind. We need the government to take action NOW to ensure that families get the right support to address the damage of lockdown and fund disabled children’s health and care services properly in the NEXT spending review.

Thank you to all the parents on our panel who are helping track the impact of lockdown on disabled children, we couldn’t do it without you

Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact and chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership

Give it Back campaign

Research with more than 3000 parent carers found only 4 per cent feel they get the right support to safely care for their disabled children.

We also commissioned economic research showing a £1.5 billion funding gap for services needed by disabled children.

That’s why in June 2019, in partnership with the Sun newspaper, we launched the Give it Back campaign calling on the Government to give back the £434 million of support owed to disabled children and their families.

More than 21,000 people signed an open letter to the Chancellor from parent carer Vickey, who receives no support caring for her son, Ollie, even though he has an ultra-rare condition that means he needs constant supervision and can never be left alone.

We have produced a powerful film that highlights the harsh reality for families when they don’t have the right support in place.

What the Give it Back campaign has achieved

In response to pressure from families and charities, the government announced £700 million for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. It has also helped us:

The Secret Life of Us campaign

We know that 43 per cent of the British public don’t know anyone who is disabled. 97 per cent of parents with a disabled children do not believe the public understands the challenges they face every day.

The Secret Life of Us campaign aims to change this.

Watch our film on Toby’s and Millie’s Secret Life.

Read about the Secret Life of Rishi.

By doing this, we hope to open the eyes of the public to the difficulties faced by families on a day-to-day basis, removing the barriers to people being able to relate to the lives of disabled children.

More about the DCP

Contact formed the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) in 2016. Our priorities for change are: 

1: Make disabled children and their families a priority 

The government should appoint a Minister for Disabled Children to champion disabled children’s rights and policy across all  departments. With the role comes clear responsibility and accountability to make sure support and funding is in place. This arrangement should also be mirrored in local areas.

2: Clarify rights and review the law

The government must work with parents to improve guidance on the current system of support for disabled children – so that it is easier for them to know their rights – and introduce reforms to make the system simpler, and rights and responsibilities clearer across health, social care and education.

Improve health and social care services for disabled children by providing an early intervention and family resilience fund.

3: Address funding shortfalls and create an innovation fund

The government must plug the £1.5 billion funding gap across health and social care support for disabled children and introduce a new innovation fund. The fund would encourage and support new approaches to joining-up services and budgets with a clear focus on early intervention for the whole family.

Who’s in the DCP?

For the full list, visit the Disabled Children’s Partnership website