Desperate to be able to provide for their children with cerebral palsy (CP) mothers are resorting to leaving these children at home alone while they work.
This according to the head of the Cerebral Palsy Association in TT, Crystal Jones.
Jones told Newsday that although the Ministry of Social Development issued a release last Friday stating no grants for children with CP had been cut, Government did cut its funding to mothers.
According to CerebralPalsy.Org, CP is a blanket term and described by loss or impairment of motor function. It is caused by brain damage as a result of brain injury or abnormal development of the brain that occurs while a child’s brain is still developing — before birth, during birth, or immediately after birth.
CP affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning.
“The previous government were giving grants to mothers of children with cerebral palsy so the mothers could stay at home and take care of their children,” Jones said.
“But that grant was stopped in May 2016 after government ministers said they would not be paying mothers to sit at home and do nothing. As a result, mothers are leaving their CP children at home where they are very vulnerable and going out to work.”
In one instance shortly after the grant was cut, Jones said a girl suffering from CP was raped by an intruder at her home.
“The mother had gone out to work in a CEPEP gang and a man broke in and raped the child. We are seeing more and more cases of children being left alone at home because their mothers have to work to provide for them.”
Many of the 600 members registered with her organisation are single mothers, Jones said.
“The Government is giving us $800 for the child, that is true, but that money is spent on pampers and medication alone in most cases. And there is nowhere in this country that provides care for children with CP so their mothers can work.”
“You cannot take your child to a daycare because when he or she starts having seizures, are the attendants going to keep running with them to the hospital all day and ignore the other children? Daycares don’t take CP children.”
She said in most cases, the mothers have no choice but to go out and find work.
“When you have a child with CP, it is very costly and if you factor in other bills, plus there are those who would have other children to take care of, a mother cannot just sit at home and watch her children starve.”
The National Enrichment Centre (NEC), which was commissioned in 2015, was shut down by the current administration due to certain ‘deficiencies’, so Jones said mothers are left with even fewer options now.
“If you take your child to the Lady Hochoy Home for instance, you cannot leave them there alone to go to work, you have to stay there with them. The Government has cut our grant, so we need to go out and work but they have failed to provide a safe space for our children while we work.”
Jones said this is no news to Social Development Minister, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn.
“I have told her over and over and over of this issue, I have written letters to her, I have made every attempt I can to get this issue out there but it is being ignored and overlooked,” she said.
In its release on Friday the Ministry of Social Development stated that media reports that grants for children with CP had been cut were false.
“The Special Child and Food Support Grants were not terminated as reported.Parents of children with special needs are provided with a special child grant of $800 per month, per child, to assist in meeting the cost of caring for the child. In accordance with existing Regulation 3A (d) and (c) 1 of the Public Assistance Act, Chapter 32:03, parents of children with disabilities may access grants to assist in the care of these children,” the release stated.