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14 September 2004

Working Families

What working parents of disabled children want

Campaigning charity Working Families is finding out what working parents of disabled children want from Government and employers. The charity's Waving not drowning network of working parents with disabled children is running a series of "Meet the Policy Makers" forums and in June they discussed childcare.

The aim of the London forum, which, like other aspects of the national network's activities in London, was supported by the Bridge House Trust, was to identify the key childcare issues that impact on network members' ability to take up or remain in paid employment. The parents who attended the forum asked Working Families to campaign on:

  • The childcare element of Working Tax Credit to reflect the increased costs of childcare for a disabled child
  • An end to the loss of Carers Allowance as soon as you earn over £79 a week - this is a real tax on returning to work
  • Flexible, specialised and inclusive care to be available at hours which enable parents to work as well
  • Extending emergency leave entitlement to parents of disabled children to accommodate hospital stays and regular medical appointments
  • Educating employers who provide holiday playschemes that they need to care for disabled children too

Guest speaker at the forum was Lynne Taylor of the National Childminding Association, which is working to increase the numbers of childminders who can care for disabled children. Parents at the forum told her about childcarers 'seeing the disability', rather than thinking about the child and how their service could suit them. They commented that they had been learning about disability since their children were born and were still learning, so they can support childcarers and teach them about their children. They also emphasised the importance of paid work - to provide crucial income, to maintain their own identity and to provide a role model for their children.

Working Families will relay parents' views to Ken Livingstone to influence the Mayor's Childcare Strategy for London, to Minister for Children, Young People and Families Margaret Hodge and to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt.

Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson said: "We will make sure the voices of working parents of disabled children are heard by the policy makers. As they have said so clearly, they are the experts on their children's needs and it's time they were listened to."

Notes to editors:

Working Families , formerly Parents At Work and New Ways to Work, is a campaigning charity which supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers. It also helps employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone. Its Waving not drowning network supports almost 2,000 families who are trying to combine paid employment with caring for disabled children. The project produces a free newsletter, provides a helpline and campaigns with Government and other decision makers.

The next Waving not drowning forum will be on transport for disabled children. It will be held on Thursday, 14 October, 2004 from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EP. It is free and lunch and a crèche will be provided. Parents of disabled children who wish to attend should contact Janet Mearns on 020 7253 7243 or [email protected].

Working Families is seeking funding for further meetings in other parts of the country and invites parents of disabled children to suggest topics which would be of interest.

For further information contact:
Maggy Meade-King on 020 8341 0708 or email: [email protected]; or Janet Mearns on 020 7253 7243 or email: [email protected] or check out our website at www.workingfamilies.org.uk

© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005