Why Ipswich parents are 'desperate' for help
PARENTS of children with special needs are being put under immense stress with some even forced to quit work due to a lack of after school and holiday childcare options.
Bundamba's Joanne Barton said the only options for most parents was specialised care at Ipswich Special School or PCYC Ipswich, provided they have enough funding.
She described Ipswich's childcare options for children with special needs as limited at best.
Earlier this month the single mum was almost left stranded when PCYC Ipswich said they could not provide for her nine-year-old foster son.
Luckily PCYC was eventually able to secure the funding which allowed Ms Barton to go back to work.
Other parents, she said, did not have that same luck.
"There is a major lack of reliable child care for children with additional needs in Ipswich," she said.
"Services are either unwilling or unable to apply for inclusion support or feel that their service has too much to do to make it a suitable environment.
"No one seems interested in this blatant discrimination happening within a very vulnerable sector of our community.
"This is a major problem in Ipswich."
Ms Barton said she knew of other Ipswich parents who have had to rely on family and friends for care, putting strain on relationships.
"Many parents and carers simply don't go back to work," she said.
"It's especially hard for children under 12 because often you have to have a recognised disability to access care from places like PCYC.
"A lot of diagnoses don't happen until children are seven or eight years old."
Disability support organisation Focal Community Living Inc. facilitates the Out of School Hours Care Program at Ipswich Special School.
Focal's CEO Mickael Blanc said Ms Barton's case was not uncommon for parents and carers in Ipswich and agreed the region simply didn't have enough childcare options for special needs children.
Mr Blanc said a lack of funding was a constant issue for disability support groups like Focal.
"We definitely need more after school and vacations care for children with disabilities in Ipswich. At the moment it's very limited," he said.
"For parents it's massive just to have that bit of respite. There are plenty of organisations who have people with the right skill set but just don't have the right funding.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) being introduced next year. It will provide the most funding ever seen in the region."
Ms Barton said she hoped to see more options for hard working parents and carers in Ipswich in the future.
"There has to be a service, whether it's run by an organisation or a school, to give more options for parents with special needs children and make the whole process simpler," she said.
"It would be a huge relief to have that extra layer of support.
"Caring for a disabled child can cost a lot of money in therapy or equipment, parents need to work.
"The issue just seems so big that no one knows where to start."