Keyworker Service for disabled children's families "an unwarranted luxury?"
The Barnardo's Parent
Partnership keyworker service provides a dedicated keyworker to the parents /
guardians of disabled children, to help them through the minefield of
appointments, red tape, transitions in schooling, when medical, educational,
and emotional experiences are completely alien and frightening and overwhelming
and heartbreaking. However, it has recently been announced the service will no
longer be funded as from April this year.
The council's argument not
to renew the contract is that it is a "luxury service" that can no
longer be warranted. This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what
the service does, how successful it is and what ruinous effect its removal will
have. Those families who have already been informed are absolutely devastated
and wonder what the future holds for them. We understand that these are austere
times and that the keyworker service is not a statutory part of the Parent Partnership
Service which it is attached to, but this is at best a disastrous false economy
by the Children's Health & Family Support Department, and at worst an
immensely cruel u-turn in the council's promise not to let the disabled suffer
in their budget cuts.
rather seems to me that it is a LOT less effort and paperwork to cut a small
service entirely, than to go through the complicated business of reducing a
large and probably over-funded service, to meet the budgeting constraints the
council currently faces!
In an email response from
Joanne Hewson (Children's Health & Family Support department) this week,
she told me "I want to reassure you and families currently supported by the service that
we are working with Barnardos to ensure continuity during the transition period
and will be talking to parents in the near future". Surely consulting the users of a service during
the decision making process is statutory? Her concern for our opinion has come
inexcusably late! And because of the timing, we are left precious little time
to coordinate any kind of powerful appeal, particularly with us all having our
caring responsibilities at home.
The real joke was the
council's comments printed in an article printed in The Grimsby Telegraph on
Thursday 21st February, which firstly painted the average keyworker to
sound more like an au pair rather than a knowledgeable experienced professional
in the field of childhood disability! Secondly they tried to claim, for those
of the public that obviously cannot know, that the same service can be provided
by other already existing services, e.g. the befrienders service.
Let's get one thing clear…
the headline "Parents Reassured" - that couldn't be further from the
truth if it tried.
If the keyworker service is
NOT being closed (a quote from the article), and the "Barnardo's
spokesperson" (whoever that was! Nobody seems to know) says they are
working closely with NELC re transition, then:
1. why doesn't even the
manager of the current Barnardos keyworker service have any idea what's going
on or what to tell us parents?
2. why do we the parents not
already know who our new keyworkers are going to be? Many of us have upcoming
appointments in early April that require a keyworker present / involved, or to
3. if there will be a pause
in /interruption of provision, why have we not been informed of the likely
length of time we will be without the service?
If the powers that be think
that a befriender service or suchlike will be an acceptable replacement
keyworker service, they are dillusional!! There is NO reassurance in ANY of
what the councillor has said. It's utter rubbish. We are still at square one so
far as the parents are concerned.
With this unfortunate and
rather flippant decision, they will be removing the only person in the entire
system and indeed within parents' own friend/family/colleague circles who fully
understands our priorities, our requirements from the system at large, and the
only person's opinion we truly trust other than our own re our disabled child's
well-being, and can help us tread the best possible path towards it. THE ROUTE
TO YOUR CHILD'S WELL-BEING IS NOT A LUXURY. THE KEYWORKER SERVICE IS NOT A