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Cash for Families of Children with Disability - Scotland

Outline: The funding of short breaks is one of the key recommendations of the National Review of Services for Disabled Children.

Main Digest

The Scottish Government is to spend an additional £2 million on providing short breaks for families who have severely disabled children.

The money is on top of the £1 million for short breaks this year and £1 million in each of the next four years - making £5 million in total - already announced in July last year when the government's Carers Strategy was launched.

Announced today by Public Health Minister Shona Robison and Children's Minister Adam Ingram, the cash is expected to prioritize children with complex and exceptional needs and their families.

The funding of short breaks is one of the key recommendations of the National Review of Services for Disabled Children - developed jointly by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the For Scotland's Disabled Children (FSDC) Liaison Project - being published today.

Depending on the wishes of individual parents and families, the funding could go towards a short break for the whole family or provision for a disabled child to enjoy time together with other children.

Ms Robison said:

"Carers make an enormous contribution within their families and to our society. That's why we have already committed investment of £5 million over the next five years for carers who look after loved ones of all ages.

"But parents looking after children with complex or exceptional needs have exceptionally tough demands placed upon them. Severely disabled children can be entirely reliant on their parents for everything and families can be left utterly exhausted.

"Providing a short break - either for parents and their other children or for the whole family - can make a huge difference in sustaining families and keeping them going."

The report of the national review includes a plan of action setting out 15 measures aimed at improving the lives of disabled children and their families. These include piloting the FSDC charter for Scotland's disabled children, exploring the potential of inspection regimes to focus on disabled children's services and a further look into learning provision for young people with complex additional support needs.

It will also ensure that disabled children's issues are integral to the Child Poverty Strategy and that practitioners are supported in using the Getting it Right for Every Child approach with disabled children.

Mr Ingram said:

"Short breaks can provide a crucial respite for families dealing with the varying demands of looking after a disabled child.

"Improving their lives is the motivation behind carrying out this national review, the first of its kind in Scotland and a much-needed piece of work whose findings set the agenda for improving services in the years to come. Many of the actions are new, while some build on valuable existing activity - but all aim to bring about real change.

"By taking these actions together we will improve services which impact directly on many thousands of children, young people and their families, and when delivered well can have a transformative effect on the lives of disabled children and their siblings."

It was also announced today that Scotland is to lead a UK-wide project to maximize the future practice, roles, career pathways and image of learning disability nursing in the changing health and social care landscape.

The project is driven by a number of issues, including:

the significant and increasing health needs of children, adults and older people with learning disabilities

the changing and challenging demographics within the learning disabled population

changing health and social care structures across the UK

immediate workforce planning challenges within this specialist workforce.

The project will develop a UK-wide professional framework for learning disability nursing targeted at maximizing their contribution, whilst fully acknowledging the multi-professional and multi-agency context within which learning disability nurses work.

Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland Ros Moore said:

"There is an increased focus on ensuring that people with learning disabilities have equal access to everyday health services and that they can access specialist health services when needed.

"I am delighted that Scotland is to lead this project, which is aimed at modernizing and enhancing the profile and contribution of learning disability nursing, and ensuring these specialist nurses use and develop their skills to provide the best possible health outcomes for this group of people."

The £2 million funding is for the financial year 2011-12 and will be allocated to the voluntary sector, who will be invited to come forward with proposals.

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