A call to Government for a SEND Equality Review

A call to government for a SEND Equality review following a decade of failings to disabled children & families from diverse community backgrounds.

Charity is calling for the government to review the last 10 years of equality duties failings in SEND delivery to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Disabled Children Young People and their families.

BAME disabled children, young people and their families continue to be underrepresented in services uptake, participation and representative bodies. Furthermore have limited support to accessible information and advice.

During July 2016 House of Lords roundtable event Include Me TOO led on with Baroness Uddin a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability and All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism; Lord Chris Holmes, Chair of the Disability Committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and an Ambassador of Include Me TOO and partner organisation Equalities National Council, asking to readdress the balance of equality, race and disability.

The roundtable discussions highlighted concerns of SEND reform and delivery failing the Equality Duties in regards to the multiple characteristics BAME disabled children, young people and their families are protected under including the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities.

‘Whilst as diverse communities we need to increase disability awareness, acceptance, change attitudes and increase community support we also need to strengthen our voices in ensuring disabled children and their families are receiving support from services and having their needs met. Our main concerns and our involvement in this article was to highlight that substantial resources have been available over the last decade to improve services and support to disabled children and their families yet there are only a few pockets of practice which are seen as making progress regarding the needs of the BAME disabled children, young people and families. When resources are allocated to the BAME sector these are tokenistic small resources that are yet again to consult on how to improve BAME engagement and access, this is a waste of resources which could be allocated to strengthen the BAME sector who already are supporting these families and communities.

The bias culture needs to change and after a decade of meetings, advising on steering groups, highlighting the importance of equality and diversity with government officials and their strategic partners sadly there has been no progress to address the inequalities a generation of BAME disabled children, young people and their families have experienced and as a result the government and their partners in delivery have failed them. The barriers to diverse representation and contribution by having a ‘seat around the table’ are consistently made impossible surely this is an area which needs to be challenged as the strategic representatives and delivery partners for SEND do not represent the BAME sector of disabled persons, families and communities’. Parmi Dheensa (Include Me TOO Executive Director)

Include Me TOO are calling for a review to readdress the balance as a first step towards progress:

• Equality duties considered in decisions made by the DfE in regards to SEND policy, implementation and service delivery.

• Review of contracts and equality impact/outcome assessments of SEND programmes delivered since 2006 highlighting areas to meet ‘hard to reach’ communities.

• Review of the last 10 years of BAME representation in government level strategic decision making processes, advisory panels and delivery partners in the implementation of SEND

• Identify resources allocated specifically to reduce the inequalities of BAME disabled children, young people and their families to provide them with an equal chance.

• Review the last ten years national programmes such as Aiming High for Disabled Children, Parents and Carers participation, Early Support, Preparing for Adulthood, Short Breaks, SEND reform, Independent Supporters etc…

• Highlight lessons learnt and produce a disability equality and diversity strategy providing clear outcomes and tools to measure the needs of BAME disabled children, young people, young adults and their families are considered and supported.
Include Me TOO are further concerned that without real action and collaboration to readdress the balance within the existing mechanisms the barriers to the inclusion, participation, support and rights of BAME disabled children, young people and their families will continue.

For further details please do contact us on im2@includemetoo.org.uk Contact number 01902 711604 Mobile contact number 07940367753