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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2008): Services for the disabled - UK

Disabled children (0-3 years) and integrated services: the impact of Early Support

A. Young and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 16, 2008, p. 222-233

In England, Early Support is the flagship government programme for the improvement of multi-professional service provision to families with children with a disability aged 0-3 years. This paper draws on results from a recent evaluation of 46 pathfinder projects. It outlines some of the key findings pertaining to the relationship between integrated children's services and the impact of Early Support. It takes a largely structural systems and policy perspective, rather than a service delivery and/or impact on users perspective. It addresses three concerns:

  1. what the evidence from Early Support can tell us about the relationships between universal and targeted provision within integrated children's service structures
  2. the relationship between specific short term initiatives and their longer term sustainability within integrated children's service structures
  3. the potential costs and benefits of Early Support.

Do self-assessment and self-directed support undermine traditional social work with disabled people?

C. Renshaw

Disability and Society, vol. 23, 2008, p. 283-286

For many years social workers have had the power, through legislation, to assess the needs of disabled people and provide services to meet those needs. Disabled people have long argued that they should be able to assess their own needs and be given control over service provision. The introduction of self-assessment and self-directed support as options within disability services undermine traditional social work. Instead, social workers need to work with disabled people to dismantle social and environmental barriers to their full participation in society.

Freedom to live

R. Christophides

Livability, 2008

This report highlights the issues disabled young people face in accessing appropriate education, housing, work and social opportunities in the transition years. Many had had to move back to the family home or into older people's accommodation because of a lack of residential places designed for young people. The report recommends that:

  1. an immediate inquiry should be held to gather information on young disabled people
  2. providers should begin to plan how adult services can support young disabled people at least a year before they leave school
  3. only age-specific services should be offered
  4. 10% of new social housing should be built to wheelchair standards.

'They know where to find us .': service providers' views on Early Support and minority ethnic communities

B. Temple, A. Young and J. Bolton

Disability and Society, vol. 23, 2008, p. 223-234

The Early Support programme for disabled children aged 0-3 and their families seeks to involve the parents in decision-making as equal partners with a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. It also promotes independent understanding and autonomous access to services for families. The idea of family-held records and of parents being able to use information in a tailored way to suit individual needs is at the heart of the Early Support approach. There are concerns that families with limited command of English do not have an equal chance to access informational materials and gain control of them. If they cannot use the materials independently of professionals, they receive a more restricted kind of service. There are also concerns about use of health and social care professionals as interpreters or translators because it turns them into gatekeepers controlling access to services, which conflicts with their role as advocates for the families. Faced with these difficulties, some Pathfinder programmes developed creative solutions such as producing audiotapes or DVDs in community languages, while others took the view that services should be developed for the majority and that parents who speak little English should be left to find their own way around the system.

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