New findings from a major survey conducted by Family Fund have highlighted the impact of Coronavirus on families raising disabled or seriously ill children, as emergency funding is announced by the Department for Education.

Family Fund conducted two surveys on 27 March and 30 April, to track the continuing impact of lockdown, finding:

  • 94% of families said the health and wellbeing of their disabled or seriously ill children had been negatively affected, an increase from 89% in first few weeks of the lockdown.
  • 89% said their disabled or seriously ill children’s behaviour and emotions were being negatively affected and 82% reported a negative effect on their mental health.
  • 65% said their access to formal support services for their child, such as physiotherapy and mental health services, has declined since the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • 30% struggled to afford food and a quarter of parent carers (24%) admit to missing meals in the last two weeks, with nearly three quarters of families now having no savings to fall back on.
  • The biggest concerns for families are around educating and entertaining their disabled or seriously ill children at home (74%) and their children’s health and wellbeing (71%).

Family Fund has been allocated an extra £10 million in emergency funding to support more families in England struggling with the impact of Coronavirus.

This emergency funding has been provided in response to the crisis presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. Families raising disabled children on low incomes can apply for grants to ease the pressure they face while following social distancing measures, including computers and tablets, outdoor play equipment and sensory toys, or household essentials like washing machines, fridges or beds.

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said “Our findings make apparent the strain that this pandemic is creating for disabled children and their families. 

“Many of these children are missing the routine and in-depth support that special schools provide, as well as professional services such as speech and language therapy, hospital appointments to monitor and support their medical conditions, and even scans and operations that have had to be paused.

“The challenge of caring for children with complex needs, alongside coping with the ongoing stress of Coronavirus, is taking a huge toll on families.

“Our surveys tell us that the biggest concerns they have are around educating and entertaining their disabled or seriously ill children at home, and their children’s health and wellbeing.

“With this additional £10 million of funding Family Fund can make an incredible difference, providing practical and essential grant support to help improve the quality of life and ease some of the additional daily pressures faced in these difficult times by many disabled children and their families."

Click here to read the survey findings.

Wondering if you could be eligible for support? Click here to find out more about how to apply to Family Fund.