§ Mrs. Margaret Ewing
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many deaf-blind children have been identified in Scotland in the age range(a) nought to two, (b) two to five, (c) six to 11, (d) 12 to 15 and (e) 16 to 19 years;
(2) how many deaf-blind children in Scotland attend specialist deaf-blind units;
(3) what plans he has to issue a policy statement on the education of deaf-blind children in Scotland;
(4) what provision is made to ensure the training of teachers of deaf-blind children in Scotland.
§ Mr. Lang
Carnbooth school in Glasgow operates as a centre for deaf-blind children from all parts of Scotland. It has nine pupils in all: six aged between six and 11, two between 12 and 15 and one between 16 and 19. Provision for other deaf-blind children is made by the education authorities in whose areas they reside. Details of the age distribution of such children are not held centrally.
I have no plans at present to issue a policy statement on the education of deaf-blind children. However, my Department is presently funding Moray House college of education and Carnbooth school to produce a training programme for teachers and carers of deaf-blind children.
§ Mrs. Margaret Ewing
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what support is provided to the families of pre-school deaf-blind children in Scotland.
§ Mr. Lang
Local authorities have statutory responsibilities for the care and support of young children who are sensorily handicapped and their families. Health boards have similar responsibilities in relation to Health Service provision and there are well-established arrangements for co-operation between health and social work services. Decisions on the nature and extent of assistance to be provided are for the authorities themselves, having regard to the resources available to them.
The Scottish Office supports two voluntary organisations which, to varying degrees, support such children and their families. The Carers' National Association has recently been awarded a grant of up to £31,750 during 1990–91 under section 10(1) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 towards the cost of setting up and running an office in Scotland. The association offers information, advice, training and support to carers who look after all types of people, not only those who are sensorily handicapped. SENSE in Scotland is a specialised voluntary organisation which provides a wide range of service and support specifically for deaf-blind young people and their families. It is currently receiving a grant of around £60,000, comprising £45,000 revenue and £15,000 capital support, also under section 10(1) of the 1968 Act.
With regard to financial support from the DSS, the full range of social security benefits is available to families with disabled children. In particular for families on income support, the disabled child premium will be more than doubled from £6.50 to £15.40 from April; lower rate attendance allowance (£25.05 from April) is available for all severely affected deaf-blind children; and invalid care allowance (£28.20 from April) may be available to the parent or other carer who spends at least 38 hours each week caring for a disabled child for whom attendance allowance is paid.