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Disability and Social Support and Welfare

There are minimum requirements that many countries both nationally and locally must offer to the most vulnerable people within any civilised society and the society must then decide whether this is adequate for a particular person’s individual circumstances. This process is supposed to be empowering and facilitate ‘working together’ and in partnership alongside families.

“Empowerment is a matter of helping people gain greater control over their lives, helping them to become better equipped to deal with problems and challenges they face, especially those that involve seeking to counter or overcome discrimination and oppression.” (Thompson 2000. p121.) For those that are non-verbal, have severe learning difficulties and/or are not able to communicate their specific views, observations should occur within their short break placement to see how they feel, behave and interact with professional carers.

The ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda within the UK sets out five outcomes for all children to achieve their optimum attention and all services within health, education and social care must be able to evidence the steps they are taking to incorporate these five outcomes within their services. The five outcomes are:

• Being Healthy • Achieving Economic Wellbeing • Enjoying and Achieving • Staying Safe • Making a Positive Contribution

However, interpreting these outcomes is not straightforward when relating them to children with disabilities. The government states that ‘being healthy’ relates to emotional wellbeing, tackling obesity, reducing teenage pregnancy and improving sexual health in addition to supporting children and young people to avoid drug and alcohol misuse. This interpretation of ‘being healthy’ does not match with the needs of the majority of children with disabilities. For instance, supporting children and young people to avoid drug misuse when a disabled child/young person is having to take a variety of drugs to sustain their quality of life changes the interpretation of what ‘being healthy,’ should mean. Therefore, there needs to be further discussion into how these outcomes can be interpreted for disabled children and their subsequent services.

Currently the charity group, ‘The Council for Disabled Children’ are exploring this, whilst running a petition to ensure that all children that have a disability receive the support services that they have a right to. They claim that nationally;

“13% of families get support from social services, that disabled children are 13 times more likely to be excluded from school and 8 out of 10 families with disabled children say that they are at breaking point. The government says that Every Child Matters – so why aren't disabled children getting their rights?” (http://www.edcm.org.uk/Page.asp 2006.)

‘The National Children’s Bureau’ has written a draft document interpreting the 5 outcomes for disabled children. (See appendix 15.) They claim that ‘the aim of this framework is to illustrate the judgments that Local Authorities, health services and other children’s trust partners need to consider to ensure that they support children with complex learning needs and disability to achieve the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes.’ (National Children’s Bureau 2007.)

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