In September 2015, Mencap in Wales issued a new set of free, downloadable Legal Toolkits covering the rights of people with a learning disability on topics ranging from housing and education to health and social care.
Services for children with disabilities
Children with disabilities were classified as ‘children in need’ under the Children Act 1989. They were therefore entitled to services under the 1989 Act, but also to extra services because of disability, under schedule 2 part 1 paragraph 6 of the Act. Provision of section 17 services was discretionary.
This has changed under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. Children with disabilities and their carers who need care and support will be assessed under Part 3 of the new Act.
The definition of ‘disabled’ is taken from the Equality Act 2010: having a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities.
Application can be made for disabled facilities grants under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 to make a disabled person’s home easier to access or safer.
The Education Act 1996, Part IV (as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001) places an obligation on local education authorities to provide appropriate education for children with special educational needs.
Right of a child to make a disability discrimination claim (Schools ) (Wales) Order 2011/1651 – amends the Education (Wales) Measure 2009
A comprehensive guide for carers of children with SEN is published by Contact a Family.
Resources are also available on the Useful People blog.
Factsheets for disabled students are published by Disability Rights UK.
This new research paper, published June 2015, sets out the current legal framework for pupiis with special educational needs and how this is likely to change in the near future under new legislation for Additional Learning Needs.
Transition to adulthood
Sections 5 and 6 Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 require education authorities to consult the social services department to establish whether a child over the age of 14 who has been in receipt of a statement under Education Act 1996 Part IV (Part 4.2.5), is likely to require support from the social services department when he or she leaves school.
The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2004 (paras 9.45–9.60) provides detailed guidance on the education and social services departments’ responsibilities in developing and progressing the transitional plan of disabled children.
Carers of disabled children
Formerly, under section 1(2) Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and section 6 Carers and Disabled Act 2000, a carer was entitled to request an assessment of their ability to care for a child whose needs have been assessed. Under the Carers Equal Opportunities Act 2004, the local authority had a duty to inform the carer of this right.
The Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 and Carers Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2011 required Local Health Boards to ensure that carers were consulted with in a timely fashion, that their knowledge of the cared for person is treated with respect, that they were made aware of their rights to a needs assessment by the local authority, that assistance was provided to help carers understand decisions taken if required, that where decisions were taken in the absence of carers, that those decisions were promptly explained, that consultation occured at regular intervals and included consideration of support needed at short notice, that due regard was taken of their age and any disability and cultural needs, that carers were made aware of support available from voluntary organisations and that training on consulting with carers was provided to staff.
The above provisions have been replaced by the regulations and codes under parts 3 and 4 Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.