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Keep us close: Ensuring good, inclusive and accessible local services for disabled children and their families

There are around 700,000 disabled children in England. One in fifteen families with dependent children has at least one disabled child and large numbers of these families feel that they are close to crisis point. Our research has found that a major reason for this is lack of support and services at a local level. The Government has an opportunity through the Children and Families Bill to address this problem. In this paper we set out the challenges that families have told us they face in getting the support they need locally and the impact this has on their family lives. Lastly we outline what Government needs to do now to rectify this problem.

Families with disabled children have told us that they are facing seemingly never-ending struggles to receive the support that they desperately need. They say that trying to access the services they need locally feels like a battle. In response to a recent Scope survey, around six in ten parents said they were not able to get services that they and their child need in their local area (62%). Many families find that they are forced to travel outside of their local area to find the support they need.

These families want to use services that many families take for granted, for example: childcare so that the parents can work; short breaks that enable families to have a rest and for a disabled child to enjoy a leisure activity; therapeutic services to support development such as speech and language; or the right educational setting so a child can learn and reach their potential