raisingchildren.net.au collaborates with NSW Government to provide additional support to parents of children with disabilities.
Nearly half of all parents of a child with a disability have reported feeling isolated and in need of more information and support, according to the parenting website, raisingchildren.net.au, which today launched expanded content aimed at addressing their specific needs and concerns.
“Coping with the additional amount of physical and emotional care required by a child with a disability can be a challenge, particularly for first time parents,” explains the Raising Children Network’s spokesperson, Warren Cann of the Parenting Research Centre.
According to Australian Institute of Health & Welfare data*, about 1 in 12 children aged between 0-14 years have a disability (8.3% of all children or 317,900). About half, 1 in 24, have a severe or profound core activity limitation requiring intensive care (59% of families were providing 40 hours or more) with the vast majority (91%) being given by the mother. One quarter reported that they had lost, or were losing, touch with friends and 39% said that they had less time to spend with other family members.
With over 2 million visitors since its launch in May 2006, the federal government commissioned Raising Children Website provides expert, impartial information on raising children from newborns to eight years of age in an engaging and user-friendly format. In August alone, new visitors to the site rose by a third.
“We know from research that parents of a child with a disability actively use the internet to search for more information on their child’s condition but that until now there was a dearth of evidence-based information and very limited details of the resources and support available within Australia,” said Mr Cann.
“The Raising Children Website’s aim is to resource and support parents and to celebrate the diversity and abilities of all children. Most of the information on the website is relevant to all parents but the purpose of the section dealing with children with a disability is to provide their parents with relevant information on issues specific to their situation,” he added.
Funded by the New South Wales’ Government Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC), the new disability section addresses common issues and concerns such as:
- Parent reactions to a disability diagnosis
- Helping siblings of a child with a disability
- Disability rights and the law
- Working with professionals and accessing services and supports
- Choosing childcare and a school
- Routines, play, health and fitness for children with a disability
The new section, which also features a useful dictionary on disability terms, will continue to be added to over the coming months.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Disability Services, The Hon Kristina Keneally, said: “Disability is something that affects most people in the population to varying degrees and at different life stages. By funding the new disability section on the Raising Children website, we aim to help provide families with better access to information and services as part of our 10 year, billion dollar, Stronger Together initiative.”
The raisingchildren.net.au site also offers short film clips of families with a child with a disability sharing their experiences, and forums for parents to communicate with each other.
“Out there is a lot of confusion as to what help is available to you,” explains Bruce, one of the parents featured in a film clip in the new disability section on the website, “Our advice to new parents is to go and ask lots of questions.” Lorraine, another parent featured, said: “[My husband] sort of went into denial, like this isn’t really happening. I just wanted to talk, talk, talk.”
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Rachel McConaghy on (0421) 762 140 or Jane Kielb on (0405) 540 693.
For downloadable images, sound files and further information, please visit the Media Centre at http://raisingchildren.net.au/media.html
Notes to editors
The raisingchildren.net.au website has been developed by the Raising Children Network (RCN), a consortium made up of three early childhood organisations: the Smart Population Foundation (SPF); the Parenting Research Centre (PRC); and the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH).
The Federal Government commissioned the website, providing $4 million over four years under its Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.
* Statistics quoted are from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2006 Update: Children with Disabilities.