Children and Families Minister Questioned by Young Disabled People

Ambitious-about-Autism-logoChildren and Families Minister Edward Timpson MP is speaking at the Pears Ambitious about Autism Annual Lecture 2013 on Monday 29 April. Hosted by Ambitious about Autism, the national charity for children and young people with autism, the event is taking place at Portcullis House, Westminster.

The Minister’s speech comes as the Children and Families Bill is going through Parliament, which marks a significant change to special education needs policy. At the lecture disabled young people and their parents and carers will be putting their questions to the Minister about what the reforms will mean for them.

Earlier this month Ambitious about Autism published its new report Our Lives in Your Hands, which tells the stories of nine families of young people with autism and highlights how the proposed reforms in the Children and Families Bill will affect them.

Our Lives in Your Hands makes a number of recommendations that will strengthen the Children and Families Bill if adopted. These include:

  • a clear right for young people to restart their Education, Health and Care plan if they return to education at any point up to the age of 25
  • a duty on local authorities to provide the support set out in the local offer, as well as publish information about it
  • a duty on local authorities to promote continuity of the support set out in an education health and care plan when a child or young person moves into a new local authority.

Also speaking at the Pears Ambitious about Autism Annual Lecture is David Nicholson, Youth Patron for the charity, who will discuss his experiences of being a young campaigner and helping raise autism awareness. The event is being chaired by Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, and York Council’s Head of Integrated Services for Disabled Children Jesscia Haslam is also due to address the audience.

Mark Atkinson, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Ambitious about Autism, said:

“The Government promised support and aspiration for all children and young people with special educational needs. We look forward to hearing from the Minister how the reforms will be put in to practice to allow young people to learn, thrive and achieve.

We hope the Government does not miss this unique opportunity to genuinely deliver support and aspiration for all disabled children and young people for generations to come.”

David Nicholson, Youth Patron for Ambitious about Autism said:

“I have a very strong belief that every single autistic and disabled young person in the UK should be able to fulfil their dreams and hopes. I don’t think that that is impossible nor is it cloud cuckoo land material. It is genuine because I know all too well that my peers and I have it in us to go far in life and contribute positively to UK society.”

Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP said:

“We are reforming the law and this will make life easier for autistic children and young adults.

There will be a legal health duty which will mean that they will benefit from better access to health services. But before this and other reforms become law, we are already testing the changes with around 700 families around England. This is going well. Most parents who have their own Education, Health and Care Plan feel positive about the reforms.

If they are given the best start in life then children with autism can be given a platform to gain independence as they grow into adulthood. Our reforms go a long way to help them get on in life.”

Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. The charity provides services, raises awareness and understanding, and campaigns to make the ordinary possible for children and young people with autism. Find out more at www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk

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