Funding for care not reduced

By nick horner news reporter

FUNDING for respite care “will not be reduced”, allaying concerns of a support group for disabled children in Walsall which feared carers being pushed to breaking point.

Walsall Council has said despite grant cuts from central government of 12.9 per cent next year, funding for short breaks has not been affected.

Family Voice Walsall had raised concerns that any cuts to respite provision by the authority could give carers the stark choice between the constant stress of caring for their child full time or putting them in full-time residential care.

The group is looking for confirmation of the council’s budget plans for respite care, which enables parents and carers to take a break from the constant stress of caring for a disabled child, at the full council meeting held today (February 24).

Vice-chair of Family Voice, Susan Ebbans, said: “Respite care is essential in giving families a break from the demands of caring for a disabled child. It gives parents and carers a break from the pressure and stress. It also allows families time to spend with their other children who can often feel forgotten.

“The frequency and level of these breaks is limited and any reduction in the numbers of days families receive will only increase the stress they have to endure.”

Teresa Tunnell, from Shelfield, whose 13 year-old son David has a learning age of only 12 months, said any reduction in respite care would be devastating for families.

“David is a teenager but with the emotional and learning age of an infant,” she said.

“Like a small child he needs constant care and attention.

“Forcing families into having to put their child into full time residential care would tear them apart, cause enormous emotional stress for parents and siblings, and actually increase the care bill the council would have to meet.”

Gina Robinson, whose seven-year-old son Brandon is on the Autistic spectrum with associated learning difficulties, echoed Teresa’s views.

“I can’t emphasis how important respite care is to families,” the Lower Farm mum said. “Brandon is constantly on the go, constantly needing attention and the stress of that can be enormous.”

The Family Voice self-help group has received the backing from Birchills-Leamore councillor, Lee Jeavons, who has been a member since his daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. “Respite care is essential for children and their families and any cut in service will only put them under more pressure,” he said.

Walsall Council’s cabinet member for children’s services said the authority was planning to spend £1.41 million in the next financial year on short breaks, direct payments and family support.

“The council has ensured that the funding from the Early Intervention Grant for short breaks has not reduced next year,” Cllr Andrew said.

“The Every Child Matters campaign recommends that local authorities spend at least 8.9 per cent of their EIG on short breaks.

“Next year the council intends to spend 9.6 per cent on this area.”

The budget will be considered today (Thursday), with a final decision to be announced next month.

http://www.thisiswalsallonline.co.uk/news/Funding-care-reduced/article-3260894-detail/article.html

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