Deaf children: invisible on the social care radar?

I’ve blogged a bit about mental health and deaf children in the past. Of course, one way to avoid deaf children needing to have access to high quality mental health services is to prevent emotional well-being problems from emerging in the first place.

So I was really interested to read phase 1 of a report that NDCS has commissioned from the University of Manchester on social care which was published recently (and which NDCS did a press release on). The research is looking at the impact of recent changes in how services to children are delivered by local authorities. Depressingly, it found that the needs of deaf children are often overlooked and that there a few trained social workers that specialise in the needs of deaf children. In many cases, deafness literally becomes an invisible disability.

One of the striking conclusions is that there is a widespread assumption out by social care professionals that hearing aids and cochlear implants ‘fix’ deafness. Which is rubbish. Such children still have a hearing impairment. This hearing impairment still creates communication barriers. And those communication barriers can still lead to deaf children feeling isolated, insecure and inferior – unless support is in place.

Which is why social care is so important – they can help provide this support from the start and stop problems from becoming critical. But if social workers lack the expertise in deafness to do this and are not undertaking proper assessments of deaf children, then many deaf children may continue to fall through the net.

The good news is that there are examples of best practice out there, mostly where professionals have championed the needs of deaf children. Going forward, our job in campaigns will be to make sure that this best practice becomes the norm. We’ll let you know how we get on.

In the meantime, we’re looking for stories of how deaf children have fared with their local social care and mental health services. Drop us a line if you know of any case studies that can help us inform our campaigns.


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