Travelling with Disabled Children
Most children enjoy travelling and this is especially beneficial for children who are disabled, as it allows them the opportunity to experience the wider world and enjoy the same opportunities as a non disabled child.
Travelling By CarIf you are the parent of a disabled child, who needs additional assistance in getting around, it is possible to claim the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. This is available at two rates. The lower rate is for children aged five and above who need more help to get around than children of the same age who are not disabled. The higher rate is available for children who are three and above and who have a severe disability.
If you are a driver, it may not be necessary for you to pay road tax on your vehicle. If the car is used to enable your child to get around, it is possible for you to apply for a Certificate of Exemption from Road Tax. Check what benefits you have to be in receipt of in order to qualify for this exemption.
The Motability Scheme may also be able to assist you in buying or leasing a car, using the higher rate motability component of your child's Disability Living Allowance.
Blue Badge SchemeYou are able to apply for a Blue Badge if your child is aged two and above and in receipt of the higher rate mobility Disability Living Allowance or has a disability that either makes them unable to walk or walk with great difficulty. The Blue Badge Scheme allows holders to park in restricted areas, such as on yellow lines, although there are often time restrictions attached to this and it is essential you find out what these are before leaving your car. A Blue Badge allows you to park nearer to places that you need to access.
There is also the Family Fund that can help you learn to drive, as long as you have access to a car, if you have a child that is severely disabled. The Family Fund can also sometimes offer financial assistance for transport to hospital as well as holidays and days out.
You may also be able to get assistance with fares for travelling to hospital, and even staying overnight, if you are on some benefits. Check out the availability of this with your local hospital. If travelling with your child on public transport is not a practical option it is worth asking about transport by ambulance, hospital car or financial assistance with taxi fares.
Another option is to apply for a community care grant. This will help you pay for fares to hospital. Although, be aware, that their budget is very limited and you may not always be lucky enough to receive financial assistance.
Getting To SchoolIf your child is of primary school age, and travels a distance further than two miles to school, check with your Local Education Authority on arrangements for getting your child to and from school. If your child is of secondary school age the distance involved is more than three miles. Ask about what training the drivers and escorts have received.
Should you take your child to and from school yourself, the Local Education Authority may meet your travelling costs by offering you a set rate per mile. The Local Education Authority may also be able to offer help if your child lives within walking distance of their school.
It may be possible for the Local Education Authority to make travel arrangements for your child, even if you live closer to the school than the distances outlined above. This could be, for example, that your other children attend different schools.