Friday, 31 August 2012

Joan Burton looking to make savings from Disabled Children

Another huge low from the Minister of Social Welfare Joan Burton.

In yet another desperate attempt to save a few quid the government look at the vulnerable again to make these savings.

This time Joan is going after Domiciliary Care allowance.

What is domiciliary care?

Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly payment 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.
Joan Burton said that spending on the scheme and the associated respite care grant has increased year-on-year, as have the numbers receiving the payment. Are parents supposed to be apologetic to Joan because their child has been born with a disability?

Joan has already come under fire earlier this year in the Dail when opposition TD`s claimed there was mounting evidence that children with autism or other intellectual disabilities were being targeted for payment reviews. A Private Members' motion expressing concern about the removal of the Domiciliary Care Allowance and the effect it would have on disabled people and their families was put forward by Catherine Murphy on behalf of the Dáil's Technical Group.

Deputy Murphy said the move was cynical as it did not protect the most vulnerable group in society, adding that a more holistic and social model needed to be adopted.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said the system should be amended to ensure that families can get support and protection instead of ''barriers and struggle''.

Finian McGrath said all the talk about inclusion amounted to "empty words", which were useless unless people were treated fairly.

Ms Burton said a net 3,000 extra children had been awarded the allowance since her Department took over the running of the scheme in 2009.

Minister Burton said staff in the Department of Social Protection understood the concerns of parents and the pressures they were dealing with.

She assured the House there had been no cutbacks in relation to this area and no policy initiatives to cut back.
She said over 6,000 extra children have been awarded the DCA since responsibility passed from the HSE to the Department in 2009.

A quarter of the children now in receipt of the payment were awarded it by the Department of Social Protection.

Unsurprisingly the motion was defeated in the Dáil by 81 votes to 41.

TWO mothers whose young sons both have autism have been left devastated after the Department of Social Protection cruelly cut their entitlements – with no prior warning.

Lorraine Ryan from Bagenalstown and Helen Fahy from Rathvilly have been left reeling after their domiciliary care allowance was snatched from them last week.

Both mothers received an identical letter telling them that their five-year-old sons do not have care requirements making them any different to other boys their age.

This is despite both boys suffering from a number of difficulties ranging from behavioural issues to toilet training to eating.

Mothers of autistic boys fuming after

Despite Joan assurance that she wasn’t targeting domiciliary care allowance, parents have been receiving this week letters from the Department of Social Protection that she was now reviewing the scheme.

Commenting on the forthcoming review, the Minister said: “I am very pleased to announce that the review of the Scheme will commence shortly and that Ms Sylda Langford, retired director general in the former Office of the Minister for Children, will be chairing the working group that is being established”. The working group will include representatives from the Departments of Social Protection, Health, Children & Youth Affairs and Public Expenditure, as well as the National Disability Authority.

It will also include three representatives from key NGO organisations representing parents/guardians of children who are in receipt of the allowance. It will include other members with relevant expertise. The review will examine the policy objectives and legal provisions underpinning the Scheme. In addition, it will review the Scheme’s current administrative, medical assessment and appeals processes, including an examination of the duration of review periods for the Scheme.

As part of its work, the Group will research best practice in other countries and will have the Medical Guidelines and the Report of the Expert Medical Group, which underpin the operation of the Scheme, reviewed by a suitably qualified medical expert. As part of the review, a consultation process with parents and representative groups will be undertaken to ensure that parents and their representatives have an opportunity to make their concerns known in relation to the administration of the Scheme.

Minister Burton Announces Arrangements For Review Of Domiciliary Care Allowance Scheme | Joan Burton - TD for Dublin West in Dail Eireann

Yet again it’s becoming clear that the agenda by Joan is to get rid of the scheme all together as she hopes to save the current €146 million being spent on these vulnerable children.

It’s a disgrace that a Labour Minister would do such a thing and Joan Burton and the government should be ashamed of themselves.

Joan’s statement on the matter concludes

“I am aware of the heroic efforts of parents to support their children. I am well aware of the vital role played by the income supports paid by the Department of Social Protection in enabling people to live with dignity and to support their children and it remains my primary concern to ensure that parents of children who continue to meet the qualifying conditions continue to receive the Allowance”.

So why is it that disabled children who have previously sat a medical test, are now subject to her department reviewing the case?

Simply because they are the vulnerable and Joan’s wants the cash back.

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