Familes of children with disabilities are struggling to care for their children while trailing from one place to the next seeking help.
A children’s rights seminar in Wellington tomorrow (Tuesday 23 March), organised by IHC, will put the focus on disabled children – a group who are largely ignored.
“They are an invisible group of children,” says IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant.
This is despite the fact that 8.6 percent of all children in New Zealand under nine have a physical or intellectual disability; 25 percent of them live in benefit-dependent households; and 523 children with a disability are under the care of Child Youth and Family.
Trish says these children experience high rates of poverty and family breakdown, and few attend early childhood education. “Parents don’t get the right information; they don’t know what their entitlements are. They are referred to a huge number of practitioners and specialists – many of whom are working in isolation from each other.”
As a result, families are put under increased pressure and the children are denied the effective early support that they need. “The problems revolve around case management and lack of information,” Trish says.
IHC is holding three children’s rights seminars this year – two in Wellington and one in Auckland – to improve the early support to families. Tomorrow’s seminar will bring together government and non-government agencies, with parents, disability and parents’ organisations to find solutions. Seminar participants will hear from Children’s Commissioner Dr John Angus and developmental paediatrician Dr Andrew Marshall.
“Children’s organisations need to increase their capacity to respond to these children’s needs.” Trish says it’s important that everyone identifies what the issues are, where the gaps in services are, and agrees on a plan of action.