Mum slams council after nightmare getting son, 4, into nursery

A mum has lodged an official council complaint - after her son was left without a nursery place for months. Beautician Ria Statham has lost money by having to stay at home to look after four-year-old Billy Thomas who has special educational needs.

Ria, from Weston Coyney, has accused Stoke-on-Trent City Council of not fulfilling its ‘legal duty of care’ for her son under the Children and Families Act.

Billy has an education, health and care plan (EHCP), high care needs, is non-verbal, and needs to be supervised at all times to prevent him harming himself and others. His needs could not be catered for in a mainstream nursery and his move to a different nursery lasted just a matter of hours.

It left Billy without a nursery place between October and January - until Ria found a nursery willing to provide 15-hours-a-week rather than the usual 30 hours.

The 32-year-old said: “His EHCP is a legal document but it has not been worth the paper it’s written on. I watched Billy regress so much being out of a setting.

"I will not be the only person feeling this way. So many people struggle and have to fight constantly for their children - and it’s so wrong. There are a lot of delaying tactics, ‘let’s see how much this parent can take’, it’s all detrimental to his development.

“The whole point of early intervention is to intervene early. There was no sense of urgency, he was just a number on their list. It shouldn't be a huge task for someone who lives in Stoke-on-Trent to find a nursery to take a child that is neuro-diverse. They’re making it so difficult for parents like me to cope.”

The council says it is unable to comment on Billy's case.

But a council spokesman added: "We always aim to listen to parents, carers and young people and involve them in decision-making where possible. Independent advice is available through the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service.”

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