Improving childcare for disabled children in Sheffield

DCATCH (Disabled Children’s Access to Childcare) is a 3-year programme aimed at improving the range and quality of childcare available to families with disabled children/young people.

Under this initiative, Sheffield City Council has received a one-off grant payment of just under £120,000.

A working group of officers and parents has been meeting since May 2010 to decide how this money could be used to improve childcare for disabled children in Sheffield in a sustainable way (bearing in mind that the grant is ringfenced and must be spent by April 2011!). As central government have made no commitment to continue the DCATCH funding, the group is keen to maximise this opportunity and leave a legacy that lives on beyond March 2011.

Achievement for All

Sheffield takes part in pilot project

Achievement for All is a new pilot project which aims to improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and Sheffield is one of ten local authorities in England taking part.

The project will run between September 2009 and September 2011 at 51 primary and secondary schools in Sheffield, as well as Talbot special school.

Going to Cabinet

Many of you will have seen the article in the Sheffield Star highlighting a survey by our group about special educational needs in Sheffield, which showed that only 10% of parents feel there is adequate provision for children with special needs in mainstream schools.

As a group, we thought we had an idea of how parents felt from our own experiences about the difficulties our children were facing but wished to ask as many other families as possible for their views. We decided to conduct a questionnaire so we had more clout facing the local authority with our concerns. Clare Peck, one of our members, put the questionnaire together and we received more than 200 replies. Once we looked at the responses we decided to raise the issues at the Cabinet Meeting in November to talk to the politicians face to face. We wanted them to know the difficulties our children face on a day to day basis and give them a chance to look at the issues and improve the social and educational experience of our children.

We've become incorporated!

Our registration was approved by Companies House on the 17th of April 2010, and we held our first Annual General Meeting (AGM) 4 days later. At the AGM we dropped the “Interim” from our name, approved our constitution, elected a management committee, and presented an annual report and accounts. Minutes can be downloaded from the “Resources” section of this website.

Short breaks grants available now!

If you are the parent or carer of a disabled child, live in Sheffield and receive the high rate of DLA or the high rate mobility component of DLA, you should be entitled to a “Short Breaks Grant” – a one-off payment of up to £370 per family, to spend on a holiday or short break activity of your choice. Even if these criteria do not apply to you, you may still be eligible for a Short Breaks Grant.

Questionnaire results out now!

At our first conference you told us that support at school, and specialist health and educational provision were your biggest concerns. We devised a questionnaire to find out more about these issues, and posted it to 1,010 parent carers in Sheffield. We are pleased to report that we’ve received 209 replies, so thank you to everyone who took part!

The survey is now closed and a summary (660 KB) is available for download here. The results show that many disabled children in Sheffield are NOT having their needs met, and they give us a good idea where the gaps in local provision are.