“Our Kids Won’t Wait” – Fife Father Urges Government Rethink Over Disabled Children’s Funding
A Fife father is asking the Scottish Government to reverse a funding decision that is ‘penalising’ charities supporting families with disabled children.
Lawrence Cowan, whose daughter Eilish (4) attends The Yard in Edinburgh, has delivered a card made by children who attend the service, asking the First Minister to visit The Yard and rethink the decision to roll forward the Children and Young People Early Intervention Fund (CYPEIF). The Yard has also launched a petition to rally further support from the wider community.
Demand for the wide range of services The Yard offers is growing. But, due to Scottish Government decision-making around CYPEIF grant funding, it cannot grow to meet demand.
Since 2016, The Yard has received £90,000 from the Scottish Government – enough to support 550 children. Seven years on, the charity’s reach has grown fourfold delivering family support, respite, school and play services to over 2,300 children in the East of Scotland from three centres.
The decision in 2022 to roll forward the CYPEIF grants has, once again, had a major impact on The Yard and some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children. In 2016 the Scottish Government contributed £163 per family and, in 2023, this has been reduced in real terms by 76% to £39 per family.
Eilish, who has been attending The Yard since last year, is one of around 200 children in the world with a genetic abnormality in a gene called TUBA1A, meaning that she struggles to walk and to see. She also has a learning disability.
Lawrence, from Dunfermline, said, “There are lots of things Eilish struggles with but she still deserves to be loved and accepted for the wonderful girl she is. That’s why The Yard is so important. The Yard is a place of pure joy. It is where she can truly be who she is. A rare place where she is not defined by her disability.
“It’s tough to find places to play which are accessible, welcoming and supportive. At The Yard, they celebrate diversity and focus on what Eilish can do, rather than the challenges she faces. At The Yard, she’s a child, not a disability. The current funding situation means kids with disabilities and their families are not getting the support they desperately need. Our kids can’t wait any longer. Their childhood and chance to make friends are as precious as anyone else’s. Yet it appears not to be a pressing priority.”
Celine Sinclair, CEO of The Yard added, “The decision has a major and direct impact on children and families at The Yard. We have a significant social return on investment, externally valued at £23 per £1 invested. Our success is largely thanks to a warm and inclusive culture, which has led to our recognition as a centre of excellence. Many organisations, including the Scottish Government, have learned from our approach. By rolling forward the grants without adjustment, the Scottish Government is, in effect, penalising those organisations who are growing in impact.”
The Yard works with children and young people aged 0-25 with Additional Support Needs through adventure play sessions in Edinburgh, Dundee and Kirkcaldy. The service offers creative and inclusive play experiences in a well-supported environment, alongside wraparound support for the whole family, with a varied programme of drop-in, respite and transition youth clubs, early years, specialist sessions with schools, family play sessions, plus inclusive play and disability training.
To sign the petition, visit https://www.change.org/ourkidswontwait
For more information about The Yard, visit www.theyardscotland.org.uk