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(UK) 80% of special needs kids get no support over summer

June 25, 2022, Metro: ‘I’m desperate – it’s impossible’: The parents struggling with no childcare options for their disabled kids this summer

‘I’ll just have to tell everyone I’m not available all summer,’ says Kate Skelton, a mum of four. ‘It all just feels endless.’

As summer approaches, parents everywhere are scurrying to find places to send their kids for the six-week break.

While many children can attend camps or effortlessly be enrolled in childcare settings, parents of children with special education needs (SEN) and disabilities are finding it nearly impossible to secure an appropriate placement for their children.

Kate lives in Bromley and is a mother to four children, one of whom has a rare genetic condition that has resulted in cerebral palsy, autism, and global development delay. While her daughter Annabelle is technically seven years old, she is cognitively more like three and requires one-to-one care at all times.

‘I’m really worried about the summer and how we are going to manage from a childcare point of view,’ Kate, who also has twins aged three and a ten-year-old, tells ‘It’s going to be really challenging.’…

After a long battle with her local authority, Kate secured 14 hours of respite a week during summer holidays, but it is only a drop in the bucket compared to what she and Annabelle needs….

Kate isn’t the only one navigating this impossible challenge – 80% of parents who have children with a learning disability struggle to access support services during the summer holidays, disability charity Mencap found. Parents may find it difficult to afford and find appropriate care, or they may lack confidence that a holiday club can meet their child’s needs….

Local authorities have said that although they know it is their duty to provide childcare for all, a third admit there is not enough childcare for kids with SEN in their area.

‘We need to stop the disadvantage for children with SEN from an early age,’ urges Parkes.

‘Government can help by increasing the child disability addition under Universal Credit to enable more families to afford holiday clubs and childcare. There needs to be more funding for local authorities and childcare providers to improve the quality and number of places for children with SEN.’…

Kate’s daughter requires one-to-one care at all times (Picture: Kate Skelton)


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