Government allocate £10M to support children with special educational needs during Covid-19

A multimillion-pound Government fund will be used to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) who need vital support during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Government will allocate £10 million in funding to help parents educate and look after disabled or critically ill children who are at home more than usual amid school closures.

Families with children with Send will receive grants for equipment – such as computers and educational toys – to make their lives easier while implementing social-distancing measures.

Schools, colleges and nurseries closed eight weeks ago due to the coronavirus outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers.

But the latest Government figures show that only around 14% of vulnerable children, those with a social worker or an education, health and care plan in England, are attending school.

Children with SEND will benefit from £37.3 million of direct support in 2020-21, which will reach more than 75,000 families in England, the Department for Education (DfE) has said.

The money will go from the Government to charity the Family Fund Trust, who will distribute it to qualifying families via grants.

The funding package will also help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of equipment, goods or services – including washing machines and sensory equipment.

Vicky Ford (pictured), Children and Families Minister, said: “Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

“I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to look after and educate them at home.

“From computers and tablets to household items that many of us take for granted, this new funding will directly benefit tens of thousands of families, making sure parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities get the support they need at this difficult time and beyond.”

It comes after a report from the Public Accounts Committee this month said children with Send are seeing their education, wellbeing and life chances “damaged” by failings in the system.

The MPs said they remain to be convinced that the Department for Education (DfE) has “sufficient grip on what needs to be done to tackle the growing pressures” on the Send system.

Last year, ministers announced a review of Send which will look at how services for families can be improved.

Dame Christine Lenehan, director of the Council for Disabled Children, said: “Continued support and a refreshed Send review, as soon as is reasonably practicable, will be needed to keep momentum in this area.”

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