News: Tory leadership - Charities 'could have bigger role' in disabled children's policy

The Government is failing in three areas of policy on disabled children, according to David Cameron.

The new Tory leader believes the voluntary sector could play a bigger part in all three. He advocates retaining special schools for disabled children, admires the European 'passporting' system, which helps families of disabled children to access services, and wants to see more respite care for carers.

Cameron, who has a son with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, made the comments in an interview with Craig Dearden-Phillips, chief executive of disability charity Speaking Up, during the summer. The interview was conducted for the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation-funded collaborative inquiry into the values of the voluntary sector.

"First, we don't have a system of identifying families with disabled children early on," Cameron said. "In some European countries there is a passporting system so that, once you've had an assessment of need, doors are thrown open.

"The second area is respite and the shortage that Mencap has done a great job of showing up.

"The third area is special schools, which is an issue that has been pushed too far by the state. We need a common sense approach that recognises special schools are necessary.

"In all these areas, there is the possibility of an enhanced role for the voluntary sector."

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