Our head of campaigns pays tribute to childcare campaigner Stacie Lewis
Thursday 27th April 2017
In this article, our head of campaigns Una Summerson pays tribute to an inspirational childcare campaigner.
This week I heard the very sad news that Stacie Lewis passed away after her long struggle with Leukaemia. You may know Stacie from her Mama Lewis blog, http://www.mamalewis.com/blog/
Stacie, mother to May, who has Cerebral Palsy, and Ieuan. Also a teacher, wife and - how I know her - a disability rights campaigner.
I first met Stacie three years ago when she gave evidence at the parliamentary inquiry into childcare for disabled children. The Inquiry revealed widespread failures for disabled children across the childcare system. The inquiry has since gone on to influence childcare legislation and funding for disabled children.
In her evidence, Stacie highlighted how disabled children are too often refused childcare due to a lack of funding and also dreadfully poor attitudes towards disability. She told the inquiry:
"One outstanding provider according to OfSTED didn't just refused May, they refused to let us even walk through the door."
However, she also highlight the wonderful things that can be achieved with the support of dedicated nursery staff. When Stacie eventually found a nursery place, the staff taught May how to eat with a spoon, meaning she was no longer tube fed. Stacie explained that this will ultimately save the NHS thousands.
We continued to campaign together on childcare for disabled children over the years. Stacie helped Contact a Family deliver workshops to childcare providers and local authorities, and she helped with press work on the difficulties accessing short break services. Stacie was also an active campaigner on housing issues.
I know that Stacie would have been really pleased to hear about Contact a Family's recent funding award to help other mums and dads understand their rights to childcare. This is a direct result of the campaigning Stacie helped us with.
Her legacy is that no disabled child should ever be refused access to childcare. Contact a Family will continue to campaign for this alongside other mums with disabled children.
We have advice on what to do if you've been refused childcare.
You can also download our legal guide [PDF], including templates on:
- Challenging a childcare provider's failure to make reasonable adjustments.
- Requesting 'top up' funding from a local authority when there is no legal duty on the childcare provider to make a reasonable adjustment.
- Challenging a local authority's failure to make sure there is enough childcare provision in its area.
If you have further questions or concerns and would like to know more, please call our freephone helpline for further advice.