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Disability and the Law: Children

The Children and Families Act takes forward the Coalition Government’s commitments to improve services for vulnerable children and support families. The Act will reform the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs. It will encourage growth in the childcare sector, introduce a new system of shared parental leave and ensure children in England have a strong advocate for their rights.

From September 2014, as part of the Children and Families Act, a single 0 – 25 ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ replaced Special Educational Needs statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments. This new plan provides statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN up to the age of 25 instead of it being cut off at 16 or 19.

Full of Life · A self-help group managed by parents of children with disabilities

Your rights of appeal to the SEND Tribunals extends to further education. Local authorities must also publish a Local Offer, which lists all support and services available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families.

Parents or young people with ‘Education, Health and Care Plans’ also have the right to an education personal budget for their support.

To keep up to date with the proposed changes to SEN, please visit the IPSEA website:

www.ipsea.org.uk/

Children Act 1989

The Act imposes a general duty on local councils to provide a range of services to ‘children in need’ in their area if those services will help keep a child safe and well. Some services are provided by the council free of charge, although councils can also decide which services you will need to pay for, or contribute to.

A ‘child in need’ may be:

  • disabled
  • unlikely to have, or to have the opportunity to have, a reasonable standard of health or development without services from a local authority; or
  • unlikely to progress in terms of health or development; or
  • unlikely to progress in terms of health or development, without services from a local authority

Local councils must identify the extent of need in their area and make decisions about levels of service they provide.

Chronically Sick And Disabled Persons Act 1970

This act places a duty upon local authorities to investigate the level of need for services for people with disability who live in their area. This includes the assessment and provision of practical assistance in the home, help with adaptations to property, leisure, and assistance with meals and a telephone.

The apparent meaning of this act has been modified by decisions of the courts. Reference should therefore also be made to the relevant case law summaries.

Carers And Disabled Children Act 2000

Under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, carers aged 16 or over who provide a regular and substantial amount of care for someone aged 18 or over have the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.

If there is more than one carer providing regular care in your household, you are both entitled to an assessment. Very occasionally, a 16 or 17 year old who cares for someone for a limited period may be entitled to an assessment. The local council has a responsibility to make sure a young carer’s own well-being is looked after and that they receive the necessary support.

If you have parental responsibility for a disabled child, your needs as a carer will be assessed as part of a family needs assessment. You have the right to a family needs assessment under The Children Act 1989. You do not need to be the mother or father of the child.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The Disability Discrimination Act is a piece of legislation that promotes civil rights for disabled people and protects disabled people from discrimination.

From 1 October 2010, the majority of the Equality Act 2010 will be implemented and will replace major parts of the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Equality Act 2010

This is intended to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

The provisions in the Equality Act will come into force at different times to allow time for the people and organisations affected by the new laws to prepare for them. The Government is currently considering how the different provisions will be commenced so that the Act is implemented in an effective and proportionate way. In the meantime, the Government Equalities Office continues to work on the basis of the previously announced timetable, which envisaged commencement of the Act’s core provisions in October 2010.