When your child’s rights, medical treatment or education are not being supported as they need to be, it can be a big help to get legal counsel. As budgets tighten nationwide for SEN support, fighting for your child is becoming harder, and getting to know the system is a massive advantage.
Looking for an advocate or lawyer?
Getting The Right Advice
Advocates and lawyers can help you make sure your child gets the medical and educational support they need. They can offer confidential advice, help you make a complaint, speak up on your behalf, and support your child’s needs and rights.
In our directory there are a wide range of advocates and lawyers that specialise in educational and medical malpractice law, but there are a lot more. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can advise you, and you could also look through the Law Society’s ‘find a solicitor’ database.
Some charities provide advocacy services, such as Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society and The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS).
Disability rights for you and your child
Your child’s rights are protected under an enormous array of United Nations rulings, conventions and Central Government acts.
These are lengthy and complicated, but don't panic because we've attached links to everything you need to know below. It's a jolly good idea to know where you stand because your child life could be a lot brighter when you know what their rights are.
Your child should
- Be included in your local community and to do the kinds of things that non-disabled children do.
- They should be able to take part in leisure activities and to express themselves in cultural/artistic ways.
- They should be able to live with their parents, unless this is not in their best interests.
- Have their views taken into account.
Find out a bit more about the six key pieces of legislation protecting these rights below:
When to get professional help
If you feel that your child is being treated unfairly compared to other children, or you feel their disability is limiting their life experience, then it may be time to seek expert help.
Six Essential Pieces of Legislation
Education Act 2002
An Act to make provision about education, training and childcare.
Children's and Families Act 2014
An Act to make provision about children, families, and people with special educational needs or disabilities; to make provision about the right to request flexible working; and for connected purposes.
Children's Act 2004
Strengthens the 1989 Act. Encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.
The Care Act 2014
This Act includes a set of criteria that makes it clear when local authorities will have to provide support to people. it also covers what your local authority duty to is to consider the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of the individual needing care. And a carers to be entitled to an assessment in their own right.
Welfare Reform Act 2012
This Act provides for the introduction of universal credit, which replaces income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related, employment and support allowance, income support, housing benefit, child tax credit & working tax credit.
Why would I need legal help?
A legal adviser can be a great ally and help you get the best for your child. When it comes to dealing with your child’s medical care and education, they can be essential, especially if you want to appeal a decision by your Primary Care Trust (PCT), or if your local authority refuses an EHCP request by your child’s school.
There are many places you can go for legal help, from free legal services to advocates and legal firms nationwide. Their advice can help you avoid making mistakes that cost you time, money and most importantly your sanity.
Get everything emailed, acknowledged, time stamped and sent to your home address in hard copy.
Make copies of all filed documentation about your child.
Use a red pen and mark up on your calendar each statutory application deadline – it’s absolutely vital that you meet these deadlines. Missing them can work really against your child’s case.
The Education, Health and Care plan is an exciting new way of supporting your child at school. Find out more in our article all about EHCPs.
Ipsea’s website has free resources, which you can download, to help families get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and/or disability (SEND). They also run a tribunal advice line and general advice line.
The DLS provide free legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers to ensure that they have access to their rights and justice.
They work collaboratively, from policy into practice, to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people. They also provide legal guides and tells you about your child’s rights.
Not sure where to turn?
Contact our helpdesk
Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.