This will be my 3rd Blog post in relation to the Worcestershire Children’s Centre’s funding cuts.
On Friday 21st October a scrutiny meeting was held in a cramped Lakeview room at Worcestershire County Council. I forced myself to speak in this meeting to share our story once again, to make my presence known and to share how the funding cuts are already having an effect on the support my family receives.
Here is a copy of the passage I wrote and read out during the ‘Public Gallery’ section of the meeting.
I wanted to bring my daughter to this meeting today, but I’ve had to leave her with her Grandparents, she wouldn’t have coped with the unfamiliar room, the lights, the noise, etc. How do I know this, you may ask? Because I felt very much the same as a child. There were no Family Support Workers when I was a child, my parents received no support, and the result is today, that I’m a 33-year-old that has been mis-diagnosed.
You may or may not already be aware of my family’s story. I have written 2 Blog Posts around the funding cuts for Worcestershire Children’s Centres, and our story was featured in the Worcester News. I Blog under the name of ‘Sensory Sensitive Mummy.’
My daughter, who is 4 and a half, has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD,) With traits of ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) she also has Hypermobility in her joints and her school are now questioning Dyspraxia. We are currently waiting to find out the extent of a genetic anomaly that has been picked up via blood tests. My daughter is neither ‘naughty’ or ‘spoilt’ she has a neurological disorder, I have dedicated the past 12 months to researching Sensory Processing Disorder.
My daughter experiences sensory overloads and holds them all in during the school day, as soon as she reaches home she experiences violent outbursts, (or meltdowns,) she hits, kicks, spits, and is very rough with her 19-month-old sister. She requires constant supervision. If my daughter thrashes herself back and hits herself, will I get the blame is she’s hurt and will social services come knocking on my door? I have asked several times for support in Restraining Training to keep my daughter safe at home, I was told that this training is no longer available. From August 2015 until January 2016, we received 1 visit per week from a ‘Family Support worker’ from a Worcestershire Children’s Centre, this support turned our family life around and provided continual support as other problems came up in terms of my daughter. The Family Support worker, arranged ‘Multi-agency’ meetings for all the professionals involved in my daughter’s care, they would also chase reports, now I’m left to do all this all on my own, and with caring for 2 young children I am physically and mentally drained. As of September 2016, we have received 1 visit from the Family Support worker, where do I go to for support now?
Who do I talk to about issues that continually arise from having a child with Additional Needs? Schools are already pushed to their limit, they cannot provide me with the same emotional and practical support that a Family Support worker can, but my family have been discharged from this service because we don’t live in a disadvantaged area?
Please advise as to where I should go to for support and advice from now on?
I wondered if the councillors involved in making the decisions regarding the funding cuts, realise how difficult it was for people like me, who shared such personal information about our family life. At times I felt like the walls were closing in on me in that room and that everyone’s eyes were on me as my youngest child wanted to get up and explore the room, to be told that we couldn’t let the children explore due to “wires” which I could only see one, which could have easily been moved! I started to feel extremely short of breath and my daughter was restless so I had to leave the room for a time. I wonder if any of the counsellors involved in the decision making could ever understand how difficult it is for people like me to share such personal information in a room full of influential people. I do not understand politics, I don’t know if what I said was the right or wrong thing, after Cll Bayliss shot me down on stating that “we have been discharged from the Family support service because we don’t live in a disadvantaged area,” this is what I’ve been told – and that we are seen as a family that is “no longer in need of this service,” and not a “family at greatest need.” If we haven’t been discharged due this factor, then why have we been discharged? Sadly, I didn’t get my answer! Cll Bayliss proceeded to say that I could stay behind and he would talk to me about this, sounding rather like I was back at school and had to remain behind in class! My daughter was tired, my brain was frazzled and I just wanted to go home, sadly no matter how much you pour out your heart to this man, the response is always the same, “No Children’s Centres will close,” that may be true, however the 3 different weekly stay-and-play groups that I attended with my child, only this time last year, no longer exist. Yes, the buildings are still there but there is hardly anything going on in them anymore! The only conclusion that I can come to is that this individual actually has a heart of stone L
It’s also very worrying that cuts are being made to the health visiting service, my Health Visitor was the first practitioner to recognise my daughter’s difficulties in our own home, until this point my parenting was being blamed and I came to believe that I was a terrible mum. This Health Visitor also arranged for my daughter to be referred to Occupational Therapy, as there had been a mix up. She sped up the process after a 12-month wait and this support has been vital for my child. This same health practitioner supported me through having 2 children with allergies to all dairy products and egg, without her I wouldn’t have known where to turn for help.
I have spent the past 12 years of my life dedicated to teaching children in the Early Years from 4 months to 11 years, I am so very passionate about the early years, as this is the foundation of every child’s journey in life. I am so passionate about helping and supporting other families, and worried that families that are in the same place as we were a year ago won’t get the support that they most desperately need and deserve.
One thing is for sure, I definitely know who I won’t be voting for in the next local elections!
Thanks for reading 🙂