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How we are keeping disabled children, young people and their families, safe during the summer

“Without Kids’ support we would have not coped at all during the lockdown, I cannot praise the staff enough for what they have done during this turbulent and unpredictable time.” (Parent carer supported by Kids Nursery)

When the COVID pandemic first struck, disabled children, young people and their families suddenly faced new challenges. Kids had to adapt quickly so we could continue to be there, providing essential support and services.

Many services continued throughout, and we used digital communications creatively to ensure valued contact could continue where possible.

We learnt a lot about the digital divide, we saw families experience the loss of vital in person support services and therapies. Now those families face inadequate recovery plans to catch back up – leaving disabled people behind. And so Kids is taking on the challenge to fight back against the lost opportunities that disabled children and young people have experienced. Families tell us they value our advocacy, and we stand alongside them to help amplify their call for a better recovery plan.

As the Government announces big changes to Covid restrictions, we want to acknowledge the anxiety that many families are facing as regulations change, and offer reassurance that we will continue to provide services with the highest levels of health and safety precautions.

Keeping everyone safe

As we cautiously transition into a ‘new normal’, many families with disabled children are anxious about what comes next. Research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership shows that, despite restrictions easing in June 2021, almost 9 out of 10 parents reported some level of anxiety and 91% of parents indicated that their child was socially isolated.

We will continue to support children, young people and their families in offering a combination of both face to face and virtual services to ensure that they can access the support they need as safely as possible

Our staff and visitors to our settings will still wear masks, when within a metre of others. We’ll keep spaces as well ventilated as we can do so comfortably. We’ll continue to wear PPE when within a metre of or providing personal care for disabled people.

Over the summer we will continue to operate in bubbles when delivering group work. This reduces the risk of all staff and children in a setting having to isolate if someone in the setting tests positive and therefore reduces the likelihood of having to close. However we do have limited staff available and due to isolation rules there may be times we cannot operate services fully due to reduced staff numbers. We will of course try to minimise any impact of children and young people and give as much notice as possible

Anyone with symptoms will be sent home and take a COVID test, and our staff will continue to perform COVID tests twice a week. More and more staff are being vaccinated and we are continuing to strongly encourage take-up.

Fighting back

“Kids are very understanding, compassionate and they have time to listen to the parent.” (Parent carer giving feedback during strategy consultations)

According to a survey by the Disabled Children’s Partnership, three quarters (71%) of disabled children have seen their progress managing their conditions reverse or regress due to the pandemic. Recognising the impact that COVID has had on the basic rights and opportunities for many disabled children and young people, we’re talking to families to understand what will make the most difference.

As well as listening to families, we have undertaken further research illustrating that the use of digital technology cannot be a one size fits all approach. Design must be carried out alongside users if we want to level up technology access for disabled people and their families.

We look forward to sharing our future plans on how we will be delivering services with warmth, professionalism and rooted in what disabled children, young people and family members find of most value. Families tell us that they value Kids as an ally in their fight to achieve their rights; the skills and professionalism of our staff make their life experiences better; and (they tell us) we are great at listening to their needs. Our consultation on the Kids strategy, as we move past our first 50 years, in the context of a pandemic, is reshaping our approach and we look forward to sharing more in coming months.

“It’s easy when a child is a young carer to only ever see them as part of a family unit but Kids treat our children as the individuals they are and put their needs and feelings first. It’s so empowering for my daughter to feel she is an individual.” (Parent carer giving feedback during strategy consultations)