Page last updated at 03:00 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Parents get more advice on caring for disabled children

wheelchair
Parents need to know childcare settings suit their children's needs

The families of children with disabilities in England are to be given more support in finding childcare.

A £12.5m government-backed scheme will provide expert advice on what is available for parents locally when choosing services for their child.

The Disabled Children's Access to Childcare Programme follows 10 successful pilot schemes.

The 142 local authorities who were not part of the original pilots will each get at least £59,000 in April 2010.

I know from talking to parents of disabled children how important short breaks can be
Ed Balls
Children's Secretary

As part of the programme, parents who have experience of using childcare for their own disabled children in the local area, could help other parents understand the services and support available to them.

These "parent champions" would be recruited by local authorities across the country to promote the new services to other parents.

It is hoped they will give parents greater confidence in making the most of the services available and ensure they have someone to turn to about any concerns they may have.

The programme might also be used for specialist training for childminders who can then look after children with disabilities, or improving the information available to parents.

'Specialist training'

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "We want every child to have the opportunity to be happy and do well, no matter what their background is or the challenges that they face.

"I know from talking to parents of disabled children how important short breaks can be, both for the children and their families, and this funding backs up our commitment. Every child matters and that means every disabled child matters too."

Each local authority will decide what is needed locally and how to use the funds.

But a national conference, featuring workshops run by representatives from the current pilots to promote good practice, will be held in February.

The £12.5m fund is being allocated across the country, with the remaining 142 local authorities who were not part of the original pilots each receiving at least £59,000 in April 2010.

The announcement has been welcomed by disability charities.



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