Our new year-long report into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic highlights that a sharp decline in access to professional health and support services, and growing financial strain, has severely impacted families raising disabled children

The report highlights how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of families, and aims to better understand their related concerns and needs. The report paints a picture of the past year, and demonstrates the significant effects the coronavirus pandemic has had, and is continuing to have, on three key areas: support, finance, and wellbeing.

The report is based on research undertaken across five online surveys from March 2020 to February 2021, as well as in-depth interviews with families. In total, over 13,000 families from across the UK have participated in the research.  

The key findings of the report show:

  • Three quarters of families (75%) report the overall support available to them has decreased since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Three quarters of families (76%) report their overall financial situation has got worse as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Four in five families (79%) report that their overall health and wellbeing has got worse since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Two in five families (42%) believe it will take more than a year before their lives return to normal.

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, says Many families raising a child or young person with a disability or serious illness faced significant challenges even prior the restrictions imposed by Coronavirus in March. We can now confidently conclude that the past 12 months has had a severe, disproportionate and lasting negative impact on the vast majority of the families we support who are raising disabled children on lower incomes.

“More than half of families we work with were previously receiving support from professionals such as educational psychologists, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

“Now, two thirds of families (67%) are getting less support from health professionals, and two in five (44%) say it’s significantly less. Many disabled children have multiple conditions, complex needs and high dependency on these kinds of services to maintain their daily health and wellbeing.

“Three quarters of the families (76%) we support are in a worse financial situation as a result of coronavirus with half seeing their income fall. Given that it costs around three times more to raise a disabled child than a non-disabled child, and families raising disabled children and young people are more likely to experience poverty, this paints a genuinely worrying picture.

“Family Fund has received almost £15 million of additional funding from the four UK governments, and we have been able to respond to the surge in requests for practical financial grant support from low income families raising disabled children.

“But despite the growth in the support that we were able to provide over the last 12 months, more is needed to help families recover. For Family Fund this means working with families to provide practical and financial grant support that they value from us. It also means looking at ways in which support can tackle the barriers that this report highlights, looking beyond the immediate horizon and forward down a long road to recovery.”

Click here to read the full report.

Jenny, who has received support from Family Fund, spoke to the i Newspaper about her current situation, and the impact that the pandemic has had on her daughter Daisy and family life. 

i Newspaper article: Families raising disabled and ill children just surviving in pandemic, as charity reveals 'severe' impact

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