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Disabled children missing play opportunities

A new report, The Case for Play, has been published by Sense into the lack of availability of play opportunities for disabled children.

Recognising the vital role play has in a child's early education, physical and emotional development, the report reveals the severe restrictions facing disabled children in accessing play, and identifies failings at every level that result in disabled children missing out The report blames a lack of attention by government, insufficient funding at a local level, and a negative attitudes towards disabled children and their families.

Researchers found that 51% of disabled children had been turned away from play settings by providers, failing to meet their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 and that 92% of parents felt that their child did not have the same opportunities to play as their non-disabled peers. 81% of parents reported difficulties in accessing mainstream play groups and local play opportunities.

In their recommendations, Sense calls for urgent action to address these inequalities and to support the Prime Minister in delivering on his recent call to improve the life chances of all children. This includes specifically increasing investment in play as part of early years funding and that local authorities should be required to take action, as necessary, against settings which intentionally exclude disabled children and fail to meet their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010.

The report is relased after the charity ran a public inquiry at the end of last year. The Case for Play Inquiry asked:

  1. What are the benefits of play for children with multiple needs?
  2. Do barriers exist to young children with multiple needs accessing play settings and activities? If so, what are these?
  3. What can be done to increase access to play opportunities for young children with multiple needs?

The Inquiry's Chair, Lord David Blunkett, said, "The importance of play for a child’s development is fundamental. However, all too often the parents of children with multiple needs point to barriers they face in accessing and enjoying play."

PACEY resources

Caring for children with SEND

SEND Code of Practice