Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking pa
Richard Boyd Barrett challenged government’s treatment of children with disabilities
People Before Profit/ULA TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, last night challenged the government’s inhuman treatment of children with disabilities and their families in their attempt to make “savings” in the Domiciliary Care allowance bill.
Closing the technical group’s private members bill on the Domiciliary Care Allowance last night, Richard Boyd Barrett TD slammed the government’s “austerity by stealth” policy which is seeing some of the most vulnerable families in the state left without a vital payment of €309.50 per month.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is a monthly payment paid to the parents of children with severe disabilities who need extra care in the home. This allowance used to be administered by the Department of Health and was moved into the Department of Social Protection in 2009.
This move has seen many of the most marginalised families either losing the allowance or being deemed ineligible.
In his statement Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “This government gives lip service to caring about the most vulnerable but whether it is the DCA or special needs provision, respite care, mental health, speech and language therapy or any aspect of disability there are gaping holes in delivery of supports.
The Minister, in her statement claimed that there was no cut to the DCA but her numbers do not take account of the increased needs of families that are struggling to survive on social welfare payments or the dramatic increase in the numbers of children in the state that sees 10,000 more children entering primary school every year.
Whatever way you look at the figures it is clear that the number of people challenging the decision not to give them the DCA has gone from 800 in 2009 to over 2000 in 2011 a percentage increase from 25 to 50. The figures also, disgracefully, show that there are still over 900 people waiting for their appeals to be heard in 2011.
What is happening here is that the Minister is clearly using a bureaucratic process to make “savings” that are having a devastating effect on families. Despite what she says it is hard not to think that there has been a particular instruction to the Department to tighten up on this allowance. This is just another example of the austerity being meted out the most vulnerable.”
“In my constituency, John from Ballybrack’s son needs constant care and attention by his parents. His mother, as a result, is suffering from depression. Harry needs help eating, dressing and can only be collected or delivered to school by either one of his parents.
How can this child be deemed not to be in need of care and attention substantially in excess of another 9 year old? How is it that Medical Assessors in the Department of Social Protection do not think he needs extra care when his GP is more than clear in his supporting letters that he does and when the Department of Education have ensured he has a full time special needs assistant and 4.5 resource hours a week.”
John, Harry’s father added: “€309.50 a month may not be much to the Minister, on her big salary, but I can tell you it means a huge amount to Harry. Harry is not able to go to play football or go to the local swimming pool. What he does like is to go to a play centre in Kildare that caters specifically to children with autism. This centre costs €60 every time. If we had €309.50 a month we would be able to go every week.
Harry can’t wear ordinary socks with seams and we have to buy special ones that cost £15 sterling plus p&p. There are so many extra costs involved with a child with special needs, this allowance would be a huge help. We are really hoping that in the up-coming appeal we will be granted it”
Domiciliary Care Allowance: What is it?
Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly payment (€309.50) to the carer of a child with a disability so severe that the child requires care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. This care and attention must be provided to allow the child to deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance scheme was administered by the Health Service Executive before it was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in 2009.
All seem to have started when it moved to the DSP. Previously Area Medical Officers would adjudicate and decide (a bit like CWO’s and Medical Cards) AMO’s would meet the child.
Now it has moved to the DSP it has been “centralised” (again like the medical cards) and the decisions are made by medical assessors who have never met the child.
Numerous reports to our office over the recent months of people not being granted this allowance or on review, the allowance being taken away.
Reports also from the Psychiatric Profession of further information being required even when the Psychiatrist details that the child needs “care and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age.”
How is it that Medical Assessors who have never met a particular child will say that this is not the case when the GP/Psychiatrist who have assessed the child say it is?
The sticking point seems to be the word “substantially”. It is a “how long is a piece of string” argument. The process is being dragged out for months. Is this just a money saving exercise? Does the Minister have any idea what this means for people?
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