There are many Acts which have been passed to enforce, protect and promote the rights of disabled children and ensure they are not discriminated against because of their disability. Below is a summary of some of the key points which remain in place and continue to guide practice today. Knowing your rights according to the law can be a powerful tool to get the support and services your child is entitled to.
We have taken great care to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date. However before using an act we would advise checking this using the following link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
It is also important to bear in mind that case law can influence an act or section within an act. Case law is law that has been established following the decisions made by judges in earlier cases.
The Equality Act 2010 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.
Click here for the Equality Act 2010 guidance.
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.
The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 places a duty upon local authorities to investigate the level of need for services for people with disabilities 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.
The Children and Families Act 2014 came into law on 13 March 2014 and has reformed the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs.
The main changes brought about for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities were:
- A new Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan based on a single assessment process replaced special education statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments. This plan provides statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN up to the age of 25.
- In line with this the rights of appeal to the SEND Tribunals has been extended to further education
- The commissioning and planning of services for children, young people and families is run jointly by health services and the local authorities.
- The rights to a personal budget to support children, young people and families were extended.
- Schools and Local authorities must now make the Local services available to children and families with SEND in the form of a Local Offer. This must be provided in a clear, easy to read manner.
- Local authorities now have a duty to involve families and children in discussions and decisions relating to their care and education; and provide impartial advice, support and mediation services.
For more information about the Children and Families Act, and to keep up to date with the proposed changes to SEN, please visit the IPSEA website www.ipsea.org.uk/
Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you the right to ask any public body for all of the information they have on any subject you choose. Unless there’s a good reason, the organisation must provide the information within a month.
The Freedom of Information Act applies to all ‘public authorities’ including:
- Government Departments and Local Assemblies
Health Trusts, Hospitals and Doctors’ Surgeries
Schools, Colleges and Universities
Publicly funded Museums
Other non-departmental Public Bodies, Committees and Advisory Bodies
Any person can make a request for information under the Act – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality, or where you live.
The Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. The DPA 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Everyone responsible for using personal data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’. They must make sure the information is:
- used fairly, lawfully and transparently
- used for specified, explicit purposes
- used in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary
- accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
- kept for no longer than is necessary
- handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage
There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, such as:
- ethnic background
- political opinions
- religious beliefs
- trade union membership
- biometrics (where used for identification)
- sex life or orientation
There are separate safeguards for personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences.
Under the Data Protection Act 2018, you have the right to find out what information the government and other organisations store about you. These include the right to:
- be informed about how your data is being used
- access personal data
- have incorrect data updated
- have data erased
- stop or restrict the processing of your data
- data portability (allowing you to get and reuse your data for different services)
- object to how your data is processed in certain circumstances
You also have rights when an organisation is using your personal data for:
- automated decision-making processes (without human involvement)
- profiling, for example to predict your behaviour or interests
More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/data-protection