Our CEO, Catherine McLeod MBE, was privileged to be invited to a Reception to mark Local Charities Day at 10 Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas.
The Reception was hosted by Secretary of State for Culture, Karen Bradley, and Minister for the Civil Society (and MP for Reading East) Rob Wilson MP.
“We were delighted to be included, and met some very interesting charities – doing lots of great work across the country! For the local charity sector, 2016 was a year of change, with less funding available from previously plentiful local authority coffers, and increasing demand for services for those who are most vulnerable. We also face increasing emphasis on direct payments, and tighter controls on fundraising; so to see Local Charities being recognised in this way was a very encouraging sign” said Catherine.
2016 saw a new and very exciting direction for Dingley’s Promise. The charity’s activities increased, as did the number of families reached, but it was also recognised that to affect more children the charity needs to influence and support mainstream nurseries. The first step was the creation of a “Providers Advisory Support Service”, which is how the charity works with mainstream providers to help them develop strategies to better support children with SEND. At the same time, the charity has ventured into campaigning, which led to the invitation to the Downing Street Reception; in recognition of the local contribution to services and the debate about provision for children with SEND. A case study of the charity’s work and the potential impact that the new “free 30 hour provision” may have on the charity and local children/families; was submitted to central government through a partnership with Royal Mencap London, and contributed to decisions made by the Government Department on the early years funding formula.
In a letter to Rob Wilson MP about the campaigning work of Dingley’s Promise; Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years; Caroline Dinenage MP, stated that she ‘was pleased to hear about the excellent work Dingley’s Promise is doing for children with SEND and their families’, and ‘believes that no child should have their access to early years entitlements restricted or denied because of SEND’.
Catherine went onto say: “The imminent introduction of the free 30 hours of childcare has inspired all of us to make our voice heard on behalf of our families. We are very concerned that when this is introduced, children with SEND could end up being discriminated against because there simply aren’t sufficient places for them to ensure that they get their 30 hours. The worst case scenario would be that families begin to notice that their neighbours and friends who have mainstream children are accessing 30 free hours a week, while their child, and others with SEND are unable to do so. If this is the case, local authorities could be taken to court by families for being in breach of the SEND reforms which state that every child regardless of additional needs should have equal access to services.”
Looking forward into 2017, Dingley’s Promise will be addressing this vital issue in three ways:
- The charity will continue to engage with local authorities around their plans for delivering the 30 hours for children with SEND, and will work hard to make sure the issue of inclusion remains high on the agenda; providing any support to families in planning for every child to be able to access their 30 hour entitlement.
- Continuing to document the situation locally and link up with key stakeholders who can pass these messages on to central government. This includes Royal Mencap London, our local MPs and also with consultants at Hempsalls who are working with central government to implement the 30 hours strategy across the country.
- Working collaboratively to develop and deliver training for mainstream nurseries to enable them to support children with SEND effectively.
Dingley’s Promise has a unique experience of running specialist nurseries across Berkshire, while also working in partnership with mainstream nurseries to build clear pathways to inclusion for children. The charity is committed to distilling our experiences over the past 30 years into a training programme that can help mainstream settings to be skilled and confident in delivering the right support for children with SEND.
“Using this strategy, the charity aims to ensure that every child can access their 30 hour entitlement, and no family feels that they are being discriminated against simply because their child has SEND” said Catherine.
If you would like to become a Friend of Dingley’s Promise and make contribution – either one off or more regularly – please do consider this. Download the Friends of Dingley’s Promise leaflet from our website
https://www.dingley.org.uk/about-us/#documents – and send into your nearest Centre Manager.
Please help us to ensure that every child with an additional need or disability is given the best chance to achieve their full potential