Funding for Disabled Children

The Next Family

By: Stacie Lewis
special needs child laughing

Earlier this week, Riven Vincent announced on Mumsnet, an online forum for mothers, that she made the devastating decision to give up her daughter into the care of the British Social Services. Social Services would not provide her with more than six hours a week respite, and she desperately needed more.

Vincent suffers from MS, and has the additional burden (and joy – let’s not forget) of three additional children. The Prime Minister himself, David Cameron, visited her in her home before the elections and promised her everything would be done to save disability funding for children in the new budget. However, while he may have strongly suggested it to local councils, he did not ring-fence the money.

In Britain, we are, in part, dependent on the goodwill of the State. Councils made their own choices, and Vincent’s family suffered along with many others. My local council of Lambeth has to make savings of nearly £80 million over the next three financial years.

On The Guardian’s Comment is Free page, I wrote about Vincent’s plight, one very familiar to me. I would be very interested to hear what The Next Family community think about the issue, especially as most of you are American.

Many people wrote into The Guardian lambasting the Conservative-led coalition government or my local council of Lambeth, or parents like me, for complaining at all.

I wish I had the space in those 600 words to explain the complexities of May’s funding issues. Lambeth has both restored May’s funding, while, with the other hand, they will remove it again in just a couple of months’ time. Our fight to secure our daughter the services she requires has forced us to contact our Minister of Parliament Tessa Jowell, government officials in Lambeth, along with the media.

We were lucky. Other families in Lambeth, especially those new to the system, may receive no help at all. One of May’s doctors told me last week that she has administrators telling her that “children are not disabled enough” to deserve the money and resources available.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many people will pass the buck but, in the end, if May and children like her are not helped now, they will be far more dependent on the State in the future.

But, I can’t let it rest that some people who read my post assume May is miserable because of her disabilities. In reality, sometimes I find it difficult to feed her – not because she is disabled – but because she is laughing so hard, I can’t get her to shut her mouth.

Here is just one smile in a million, taken only a week back. I can assure you there have been a million since too.

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Mama Lewis and the Amazing Adventures of the Half-Brained Baby

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