Families of all ages are entitled to the necessary supports to keep their disabled family member at home. Families should not have to fight to get services or have to wait until they are in crisis to get help.
When adequate assistance is not available, family members with caring responsibilities can feel isolated and experience higher rates of poor health, stress and poverty. For some families the impact of these stressors is seen in the over representation of children with a disability in the child welfare system. Nationally 10-20% of children and young people in care have a disability.
Family roles change as their family member with an intellectual disability moves through different stages of life – from early childhood, school, teenage years, adulthood and older age. As family members who are carers age or become unwell additional supports or changes to living arrangements may be required.
Adults with an intellectual disability have the right to develop relationships, including sexual relationships, and to form their own family groups.
IHC believes that:
- Children belong in families
- There should be legal and policy recognition of the role played by families supporting a relative with a disability
- Timely, flexible, integrated and adequately resourced supports and services should be available to ensure that families can access the practical assistance needed
- Families should have easy access to relevant information so they can make informed choices
- There should be support for families and their relative with an intellectual disability to plan together for the future
- Parents with an intellectual disability must be supported so they can play an active role in their children’s lives.
What is IHC doing:
- IHC has developed and continues to update information for families
- Start Strong Campaign is an initiative that focuses on the need for early and sustained support for disabled children and their families.
- IHC is standing up for the rights of children with intellectual disability to attend their local early childhood centre and school.
- IHC endorses the NZ Carers’ Strategy and Five Year Action Plan
- IHC and IDEA (the service arm of IHC) has a Successful Ageing project in progress that includes support for families as they and their family member with an intellectual disability age