Councillors Back Support For Children With Special Needs

Councillors have backed a new approach to supporting parents of the twenty islands’ children with special needs or disabilities.

The Government’s Short Breaks Policy provides staff and facilities to offer parents a break from caring.

Jane Stewart, Supervising Social Worker in Scilly, says the Government wants parents of children with special needs to be able to pick and choose their support.

After assessment, adults are awarded a budget, which can be spent on services or support to suit their situation and funding can be spent on equipment or for parents to receive training in how to deal with a youngsters’ condition.

Jane says they could decide to pay for an inclusion worker, to work with their child on a one-on-one-basis, or spend their allocation another way.

She says there are some myths about the funding and some people may think they can just receive a grant and spend it on their child. It is a bit more complicated than that and Jane says parents can read the facts in her consultation paper.

From Radio Scilly

Jane Stewart talks about the help available for parents

Her team try to give parents of kids with additional needs a break for a few hours during the day and foster carers are being recruited to allow overnight breaks too.

They’ve also recruited more inclusion workers who can help kids participate in local clubs and activities.

The Disability Discrimination Act means her team can offer help if a physical or learning condition impacts on the youngsters’ day-to-day life. That can benefit off-island kids in particular, with help, for example, to take part in activities on St Mary’s.

Jane says some parents may be too proud to ask for help, but she says there’s no stigma or shame.

Every adult looking after a child who has special requirements should get in touch to find out how her team could assist, says Jane, adding we’re lucky in that there is a small, flexible team working to support parents on the islands without the bureaucracy of the mainland.