Devastating circumstances for many children

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are between 500 and 650 million people on earth who have disabilities. Furthermore, the WHO estimated that around 10% of the world’s children live with sensory, intellectual or mental health impairment. About 80% of those children and young people reside in third world countries.

According to the last national census, there are about 200 000 children with disabilities under the age of 10 in South Africa, and another 300 000 between 10 and 20 years of age. Child disability is a neglected and serious national problem, yet the scale of the problem is poorly documented and hence not represented on a policy and services level.

There is consensus that there are close to 600 000 children with disabilities of school going age who are out of school and hence are being denied their constitutional right to a basic education

Parenting children with disabilities is an extremely expensive endeavour with often devastating financial implications for families and even more so for families from poor communities who are already subjected to conditions of deprivation. The needs of a family caring for a child with disabilities extend well beyond food, clothing and housing. Thus day care centres for children with disabilities are immensely needed to allow the child’s parent or caregiver, who is often also the family breadwinner, to use the time when their child is being cared for to source income to sustain their household.

The NCPPDSA, the national NGO for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with physical disabilities, believes that society’s knowledge and understanding of disability issues is directly related to the level of responsiveness to the needs and rights, and social inclusion, of persons with disabilities.