18 Aug 2022

Father begins petition to highlight 'unfair' treatment of his children

Father begins petition to highlight 'unfair' treatment of his children

John Joe McGinley and his four wonderful boys

A concerned father who has two two children on the Autism spectrum has started a petition calling on the Minister for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, to end what he sees as the unfair treatment of special needs teenagers who have to change from the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) to Disability Allowance (DA) while still in education.

John Joe McGinley is the father of two young boys who are on the Autism spectrum. He and his wife Eileen have four beautiful boys and live in Glassagh in the heart of Gaoth Dobhair.  

Mr McGinley said because of his son's lifelong medical conditions they qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) - a monthly payment for a child aged under 16, with a severe disability.

To qualify for DCA, the child must need ongoing care and attention substantially over and above that usually needed by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.

Mr McGinley said that the allowance is very useful in order to fund the myriad of expenses that result in providing his children with the best possible care on offer and, at times, seeking private alternatives. 

However, the DCA stops when a child reaches 16. At age 16, the child can apply in their own right for Disability Allowance (DA) which is a means-tested payment for people with disabilities.

Mr McGinley said: "As any parent of a child with special needs will tell you their condition does not magically disappear overnight and the process of applying for any support is both time consuming and a traumatic experience.

He added: "It should also be remembered that Disability Allowance application is supposed to be completed by the person applying i.e., the child. Many children with special needs at 16 find this impossible especially those with autism where dyslexia and learning difficulties are a major part of the diagnosis."

Mr McGinley wrote to the minister, Anne Rabbitte, in October, and received a holding letter. 

"Given the delay in reply, I decided enough was enough and have started a petition which I hope to grow and present to the minister. I fully appreciate that once a child becomes an adult they should be judged as such but children of 16 are still at school. Their disability has not gone away legislators should at least change the regulations so those still in education receive DCA and once they are finished with education and ready for work, they can be judged by the criteria used for the award of Disability allowance," he said. 

He added that the child’s needs do not diminish, and the costs of caring for his children continue.

The petition can be found on his website or you can click here.

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