In 2015, Sense undertook a Public Inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children aged 0-5 with multiple needs in England and Wales. We found that disabled children have significantly fewer opportunities to access play settings and activities than their non-disabled peers. Parents also told us that they need more support to learn the best ways to engage their child in play. In fact, this is the most common request received by our Children’s Specialist Services Team (CSS).
In response to these findings we worked closely to produce two play toolkits: one for parents of children with multiple needs and one for play settings, available in English and Welsh.
The toolkit for parents offers useful information and guidance on play, as well as simple ideas, suggestions and practical play activities that can be tried at home, outside or in other environments.
The play settings toolkit has been designed to help early years play providers and workers offer accessible play opportunities to children with multiple needs. It provides specialist guidance on making play activities and settings more inclusive.
Both toolkits are full of exciting activities! Each activity is complemented by an instructional video produced by Sense’s CSS practitioners. The toolkits also contain an overview of the legal context (including the rights of families and requirements for play settings), the support CSS can offer, and where to go for further information.
Making the case for play
We have also been campaigning national and local policy changes to address inequality in accessing play. The Case for Play Report launched in February, and we are delighted at what has been achieved so far as a result.
The government, for example, has agreed to increase funding to ensure play providers can provide the right support for disabled children that access their settings.
While these changes will improve access to play in the long term, we hope that our play toolkits will have a more immediate impact for disabled children and their families. Hopefully they will become useful resources in homes and play settings across the country, and improve access to play overall.
Enjoy the toolkits, have lots of fun trying the activities and share widely!