The majority of parents who have a child with a learning disability find it hard to access short breaks and respite services over the summer holiday and many struggle with childcare, according to a report by the charity Mencap.
The survey of 316 parents who have a child with a learning disability also found almost half struggle to find daily childcare over the six-week break.
Mencap chief executive Jan Tregelles said: “For many parents of children with a learning disability, this means non-stop care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Having to care for their child who may have complex needs whilst juggling their work and other demands can push many families to breaking point.
“Having accessible and suitable childcare on offer can be a lifeline for many families.
“But due to a lack of sufficient provision from local authorities and inflexible provision of the services that are available, we are seeing many families are unable to access services and are often left to struggle alone.”
She added: “It is unacceptable that, despite obligations, yet again local authorities are still not doing enough to help families who are being pushed into moments of crisis. This needs to change.
“We need to invest in these vital services and ensure equal access to them for children with a learning disability as they can be the difference between families reaching breaking point or not.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “We share the concerns Mencap is raising about the availability of childcare for children with learning disabilities.
“Many childcare providers do not receive the support – both financial and practical – needed to deliver the one-to-one quality care that children with additional needs require, leaving families struggling to access suitable care both during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year.
“Current government proposals to increase the funding available to support children with special educational needs and disabilities are undoubtedly positive, but these must be part of a comprehensive, coordinated system of reforms across the whole care and education system if they are going to have a real impact on those children and families most in need.”