More parents calling helpline regarding child disability issues

More parents calling helpline regarding child disability issues

Tanya Ward of the Children’s Rights Alliance says there is a serious gap in service provision when it comes to family law. Picture: Julien Behal Photography

There is a growing trend of parents seeking legal advice regarding children’s disability, with children as young as five being put on a reduced schoolday due to behavioural difficulties, according to the Children’s Rights Alliance Helpline's Second Annual Report.

Family law and education also remain the top issues for parents for the second year in a row.

The Children’s Rights Alliance established the helpline and free legal advice clinics in 2018 to ensure that all children have access to free legal information and advice when they need it, regardless of their location, income, or situation.

Its latest annual report highlights a growing trend in calls on disability, with more than double the number of cases in 2019 than for the first year of the helpline.

The report also reveals that family law and education remain persistent areas where parents and young people need help.

“This is the second annual report for the helpline, and it is telling that we are seeing the same issues come through as the areas of most difficulty for young people and parents," said Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance. 

"It is disappointing to see that there remains a serious gap in service provision when it comes to the family law system. For the second year in a row, family law queries dominate our caseload. 

“Children and young people have contacted us struggling to understand the processes involved in family law disputes, particularly around access visits. 

We have had calls where there has been an instance of domestic violence and the young person does not wish to go on the access visit.

"We have also had parents contact us because their children do not want to go on access visits but they are worried about breaking the court order.”

According to the report, 35 cases (14%) were on the issue of disability. 

Reduced timetables, where a child is on a shorter day, was a recurring issue in 2019, with families contacting the helpline about children as young as five being put on a reduced day due to behavioural difficulties.

According to the report, "young people have contacted us because they do not want to relocate to another country and they wanted to know their rights".

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