Ok, so most of you will know that I am Mum to 5 boys and I’m also a childminder. I obviously like kids.
I am a great believer that children are our future.
So the other day when I bumped into one of the teaching assistants from my children’s school, I was surprised to hear that she was leaving the school due to funding cuts.
Now, I am more than aware that over the last couple of years the government have made funding cuts in all sectors across the country.
But I am really concerned about our children’s futures. So far the cut backs they are making to education and health care have affected my own family and no doubt hundreds of thousands of others too.
I have 2 sons who are on the SEN register at their schools. Both for two totally different reasons.
The cuts started to affect us 3 and a half years ago when I had both my sons referred to CAMHS. I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy or short journey. But over the 2 years we were in the CAMHS service, the service we received was appalling. In the first 18 months, we had 3 key workers leave due to staff cuts, professionals leaving the service due to stress and no doubt other issues. We experienced miscommunications, to the point we had to start the process 3 times due lack of communications, lost paperwork and from my opinion, poor organisation. One wait for a new key worker took over 6 months.
Now, as a parent, you all know that you would do anything to give your child the best in life. You would do anything you could to help and support them.
Am I right?
Well it got to a point that one of my sons was really struggling, putting strain on him, myself and our family. So obviously, as any mother would, I sought help and support for my child and family. CAMHS didn’t have the staff to be able to discuss my sons. I ended up contacting our local MP. Extreme, I know. I shouldn’t have had to do it. But I knew that we weren’t the only family struggling and not getting heard. I felt I needed to take a stand.
Miraculously, all the appointments and assessments we had been waiting for fell onto our door mat. But by now, I was portrayed as ‘That parent’ by professionals. Our name had been ‘blacklisted’ and the attitude of the professionals changed towards myself. It shouldn’t have been the case. I was made to feel that my sons issues were my fault, my parenting. But I went with my gut instinct. I knew it wasn’t my fault. Within 2 months of our MP writing to CAMHS and acknowledging our case, my sons were discharged from CAMHS with letters of advice and a referral to our local authority Early Help team.
One of my sons was given additional help at school with the support of teaching assistants. I was over the moon that he was being taken seriously now we had a diagnosis. He was getting support. But it shouldn’t have been such a battle.
So like I said, we were referred to the Early Help team at our local authority. That will be a year ago now. Within a few months we received our first of many appointments – a general meet and greet. Upon meeting us and our son, our key worker asked why we had been discharged and that he felt my son still needed support from CAMHS – and so did I. As it was, our key worker knew the psychologist that did my sons assessments and decided the outcome of diagnosis. So he rang the psychologist at CAMHS to discuss our son, only to be told that we had been discharged and could not access the CAMHS service for at least another year!
As you can imagine, I was fuming. We had a little boy and his family who were struggling.
I have to say that our Early Help key worker has been worth his weight in gold, even to the point that he has made weekend appointments to see us.
Over the last year that our family have been working with our key worker we have seen a large amount of cut backs. To the point that our key worker alone has over 50 families on his case load. That’s a massive case load for one person to take on. The staffing in his team has been decreased to only 3 members of staff. Access to resources have been slashed due to funding. It has taken us a year to get to the stage of starting Theraplay.
A Whole Year!
So that’s 3 years we have waited to start any type of therapy for my son! Goodness knows how long Therapy is going to take as our key worker is one of very few in the Early Help service that can present and assess Theraplay.
Over the years, I have worked with both my boys schools SENCO teams to be able to get them the help and support they need.
But, again, valuable services have been taken away and school budgets have been reduced. Meaning that children needing support are finding it harder to receive it and are falling through the net.
The Reason Why I Am Worried About Our Children’s Future
Firstly, we will all know that having a new baby or young children can be overwhelming at times. That we need some type of support from time to time. Health visitors are usually your first port of call. But in my local area, the health visitors have been slashed. Along with access to the Sure Start Children’s centres. I personally found that access to these valuable services and resources a God send. In fact, I met some of my very good friends at a breast feeding group at a Sure Start Centre. The Children’s centres were life lines for a lot of parents, allowing families to access resources to help their child’s development.
Parents are a child’s first educator and if parents aren’t able to access the resources and support they need, then their children are going to suffer in all areas – including health, development and even mental health.
PIN FOR LATER
Children will fall through the net if parents don’t have anywhere to go for help and advice.
As I mentioned from my own personal experience, waiting lists are getting longer.
Valuable services are being cut that could have potentially helped and supported a child and family.
If a child doesn’t get the help and support they need to access early on, they could be potentially be more likely to have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Also self esteem, developmental, social and emotional issues.
We will end up with children who are potentially ‘broken’. They will be less than likely to achieve their full potential without the help and support. Meaning that their education will suffer and potentially they will be unemployable in the future due to mental health, social and emotional issues.
This scares the living daylights out of me!
We really need to invest in services for our children so that each and every child can reach their full potential and have a bright future.
Because I know about these cuts I am very one the ball and have educated myself on such things as The SEN Code Of Practice and where I can find resources. But other families aren’t aware of these things.
Changes need to be made. The Government really need to invest in all of our children for the sake of their futures and that of this country.
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