COVID-19: A Message to the Disabled Children's Sector










Dame Christine Lenehan - Director of the Council for Disabled Children, shares this important message:

The only thing that is really clear at the moment is that we are in profoundly uncertain times. None of us have been in this position before and the speed of change over the last two weeks has left many of us feeling confused.  At the Council for Disabled Children, we are following Government advice and, for the time being, working remotely. For me, it means having to learn to use some new technology; it’s not something I am good at, but I am learning, slowly.

Inevitably, we have had to postpone events and training and cancel face-to-face meetings, but we are actively exploring other ways of continuing our services, including the important role we play in convening and partnering with other organisations.

We remain more committed than ever to supporting the children and families who find it hard to get their needs met. We are advocating for their rights in discussions with Government during these difficult circumstances, and encouraging our partners in the public and voluntary sectors to prioritise their needs and to keep them safe. We are considering new ways to provide evidence-based advice and information to practitioners, commissioners and decision makers.

CDC is looking at how we can best support you during this time of unprecedented challenge. How do we find the best way of supporting families and children, services and systems that all care about or for disabled children and those with SEN? And how do we make sure that clear information, advice and support is available throughout this difficult time?

We have been working closely with civil servants in DfE, DHSC and at NHSE. We should applaud them for how hard they are working; they are all trying to prioritise the decisions that need to be taken and to get information to people who need it.

We will, of course, continue to support the Government in these difficult times and, with your help, we will act as a critical friend to make sure that children and families’ needs are recognised and understood.

As part of this, last week I spoke with the new Children’s Minister at DfE, Vicky Ford. She has already been listening to the parents of children with SEN and disabilities and she is keen to reassure them, and the services that support them, that the government recognises the particular challenges that this group faces.

We want to ensure you have information relevant to your needs and circumstances, whether it’s about: the current Emergency Bill; the latest guidance; how the sector is meeting the needs of different groups of children; or practical ideas to support children at home. We are developing a part of our website with these resources here.

We are also looking at a world beyond the current challenges, where SEN and disability remain a priority, with work on the SEND review, and, no doubt, the challenges and opportunities that we will face in a world where, hopefully, Coronavirus is vanquished!

Take care and stay safe.

Dame Christine Lenehan, DBE