Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Challenges Faced By Caregivers in Seeking Educational Opportunities for Their Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Accra, Ghana (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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305P (WITHDRAWN) Challenges Faced By Caregivers in Seeking Educational Opportunities for Their Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Accra, Ghana

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Abigail Mills, PhD, Dr., University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Doris Boateng, Ph.D., Lecturer, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Mavis Dako Gyeke, PhD, Professor, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Background and Purpose: There is growing awareness about the potentials that could be unearthed from children with disabilities when given educational opportunities. However, in developing countries particularly, educational institutions are ill-equipped to provide the necessary structural and social supports for children with disabilities. As a result, most regular schools refuse admission for children with disabilities. Children with cerebral palsy (CP) constitute one group of children for whom caregivers find increasingly difficult to access educational opportunities. Factors that contribute to this include stigma, as well as the varying degrees of limitations in mobility, communication and self-care associated with CP.

Methods: A total of sixty (60) caregivers of children with CP were involved in this qualitative study. Participants were purposively sampled from a support group for caregivers of children with CP in Ghana. Nineteen (19) were involved in semi-structured In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) while a total of forty-one (41) caregivers were involved in four (4) different Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). Forty-nine (49) of the caregivers were biological parents (mostly mothers) of the children with CP, while the remaining eleven (11) caregivers comprised other family members such as grandparents, siblings. and aunts. The IDIs and FGDs elicited participants’ experiences regarding the care of children with CP in their communities, including those related to seeking educational opportunities for their wards. Interviews and FGDs were audio-recorded and subsequently transcribed. Thematic analysis was employed to generate patterns of meaning from the data.

Findings: The data revealed various difficulties encountered by caregivers in their efforts to find schools for their children with CP. While some managed to find schools that were willing to enroll the child with CP, caregivers were required to pay more fees than was typically charged by the school. A few others had to resort to keeping their children at home, for reasons such as dissatisfaction with the services provided by the schools their wards had previously attended or inability to bear the costs involved. Stigma associated with the disability was also a challenge. Several participants expressed the desire for affordable and well-equipped educational facilities that are manned by personnel who are skilled in teaching and caring for children with CP.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings of this study indicate that there continues to be unmet educational needs for children with CP in Ghana. Although successive governments in the country have made huge investments in the educational sector to promote inclusive education for children who were previously left out of education, these efforts have not been far-reaching enough, resulting in many children with CP being left out. By paying attention to the unique challenges that parents and other family members of children with CP encounter in seeking educational opportunities for their wards, social workers can engage with relevant community, governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to provide the needed financial, human resource, structural and social interventions.