Inclusion Scotland

Working towards a society where disabled people are equal citizens

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Disabled children in Scotland face a lifetime of discrimination despite huge strides forward by society.

Two separate reports released this week give a damning indictment on the way the country treats disabled children.

A study by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People (SCCYP) has found bullying and discrimination of disabled children is widespread.

Social care charity Quarriers also released a report highlighting the difficulties of disabled children in the care system finding a foster home.

The SCCYP study also showed that social disadvantage was part of the life of disabled children with many parents saying they believed education at special schools was a compromise over mainstream education.

And even when children make the transition to adult services, parents’ experience of services is unanimously negative according to the report. It claims young people are not fully involved in decision making.

There was also “community bullying of the whole family” that discouraged children from playing outside and getting exercise, the report said.

Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said the issues showed some areas of provision for disabled children were “not good enough”.

He said: “We know that many disabled children and young people do not enjoy the same chances as their peers, and too often inclusion remains an aspiration, not a reality.

“There are many aspects to a lack of inclusion, and they take numerous forms and guises in society, but they all have one thing in common: they violate children’s rights.”

The report highlighted cases of disabled children being bullied and of “deliberately excluding the child from conversations or activities”.

The study talked of a lack of sports activities for disabled pupils and gave the example of one school that had “no teams for children with physical impairments and no sign language interpretation for a child who was a member of a football team”.

It comes during Foster Care Fortnight during which Quarriers launched its own report on the problems faced by disabled children who are seeking families to care for them.

It revealed only a quarter of foster carers or those considering becoming carers would take a child with multiple disabilities and complex needs, and only around 50 per cent feel they could care for a child with less complex disabilities.

The YouGov survey found that of the more than 1,000 current and potential foster carers surveyed online, 55 per cent said they would consider looking after a child with a learning difficulty. Another 51 per cent said they would foster a child with a mobility disability and only 40 per cent said they would foster children with serious emotional or behavioural problems.

Liz Hamilton, fostering service co-ordinator at Quarriers, said the results were “disappointing”.

She added: “Severely disabled children face extreme challenges every day of their lives and it seems so unfair the odds are stacked against those in the care system when it comes to finding a foster care placement.

“I would urge potential foster carers to see past the barriers to ensure the hardest-to-place children get an opportunity to benefit from family life.”

Quarriers said Scottish Government figures show that 5,023 children were in foster care in Scotland as of July 2011. The Fostering Network charity said a further 1,000 foster care families are needed in the country to cope with demand.

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