Special needs and disabled children need more support

Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous is raising awareness about the pandemic’s impact on support for children with Send

Bambos Charalambous, Labour Party (credit parliament.uk)
Labour MP Bambos Charalambous has represented Enfield Southgate since 2017 (credit parliament.uk)

As a society, we are still coming to terms with the impact of Covid-19.

One particular issue that I am deeply concerned about is the pandemic’s impact on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

The past two years have been incredibly difficult for children with Send and their families. According to the Disabled Children’s Partnership, nearly three quarters of disabled children saw their progress managing their condition regress during the pandemic. In the same survey, nine in ten children reported feeling socially isolated.

I have spoken to a number of constituents who face enormous challenges getting their children the support they need. They are having to fight at every stage of the process because of delays and shortages of resources.

For example, children with disabilities often require specialist equipment to meet their needs but, with the lengthy delays in assessment, their conditions can worsen rapidly without equipment. For others, a shortage in educational psychologists means delays in children receiving education, health and care plans (EHCPs) that schools need to support them.

Some children with complex needs, such as adopted children with adverse childhood experiences, are also being left behind as schools are unable to provide the support they need without more resources and better training for staff.

These are issues I raised in parliament back in September, and again in January, and will continue to press the government on, as I know these delays are causing significant anxiety for families in Enfield.

Once again, like many issues affecting local authorities up and down the country, this comes down to a lack of funding. The Conservative government constantly talks about ‘levelling up’ but, in reality, it has been starving local authorities of resources and funding for years – and this is the case for everything, from transport to education.

Support and access to health and care services for children with Send is becoming a postcode lottery, based on limited resources from central government, rather than based on the needs of children and families. This is unacceptable, and I am worried that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being neglected because of government cuts and short-sightedness.

As we recover from the pandemic, I believe more support is needed. Over two years ago, the Department for Education announced a major review into support for children with Send, but it has been repeatedly delayed since. Nevertheless, the review provides an opportunity to upgrade the resources that local councils can deliver and enable a targeted, catch-up plan for children with Send.

To implement this, the government needs to start listening to the concerns of families, like those I’ve spoken to in our community, who feel let down by inconsistent support for their children.

Bambos Charalambous is the Labour MP for Enfield Southgate. If you are a constituent you can get in touch with him by phone or email:
Call
020 8882 0088
Email [email protected]