Thousands of ‘DCA Warriors’ to press candidates on doorsteps

A Facebook group of 8,000 members based around service provision for children with autism and related conditions has launched a new campaign targeting all candidates in the run-up to the general election.

The DCA Warriors group, based initially around struggles by members to secure the monthly domiciliary care allowance (DCA), has issued all its members with a policy document that focuses on problems with the education system as experienced by the children in their care.

The campaign is being conducted in collaboration with Dublin law firm KOD Lyons, and a spokeswoman for the group, Margaret Lennon, said it planned to “escalate” its campaign in future.

The campaign seeks a number of policy pledges, including: Fully reasoned decisions within eight weeks in relation to applications for domiciliary care allowance; carers allowance; carers benefit; and disability allowance; the establishment of an independent investigation and complaints unit for education with the power to enforce decisions; an urgent independent review of the assessment of need process and the Disability Act 2005 to include the streamlining of early intervention services for children until the age of 12; and an overhaul of and adequate resourcing of child and adolescent mental health services with independent oversight.

The group also wants full implementation of the Education of Persons with Special Education Needs Act 2004, including the necessity for all children to have an individual education plan, the national educational psychological service assessments to be based instead on the individual needs of children arising in a school setting, and the immediate removal of isolation/seclusion rooms for punishment.

Ms Lennon said that all members had been asked to get a written response from candidates in relation to the issues raised on the doorsteps.

“Our children are entitled to an equal position in Ireland,” she said. “We should not be pleading for something that is there in the Constitution.”

She said that many members of the group had raised concerns that resources provided to schools for special needs education purposes were instead being used elsewhere.

“A lot of people are being forced out of mainstream settings,” said Ms Lennon.

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