Harborough family is battling to get nursery funding for autistic boy after 'frustrating' stand-off between two councils

A young Market Harborough mum is fighting an almighty battle to win vital new nursery funding for her autistic boy.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:50 pm

Megan Stewart, 32, has become trapped in No Man’s Land because while she lives in Leicestershire her son Arlo attends a school just over the Northamptonshire border.

And both county councils are telling her that the other should pay to keep the youngster at Daffodils Outdoor Nursery in Arthingworth from April.

Fed-up Megan, of Granville Street, Harborough, said: “It’s so frustrating it’s untrue.

Megan Stewart and Arlo

“We have been suspended in mid-air for weeks – caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

“It’s driving me mad – and all we are doing is to try to do our best for little Arlo.”

The exhausted mum-of-three added: “I just wish the two county councils would see some sense.

“I’m begging them – please talk to each other and sort this out as soon as possible.”

Megan said Arlo, who’s on the autism diagnosis pathway, started attending highly-rated Daffodils in October 2018.

“He’s been getting one-to-one support and care there and it’s been excellent for him.

“Arlo’s with someone there from the minute he starts to the minute he leaves,” said Ms Stewart, who also has a daughter Rosemary, seven, and 18-month-old baby Barnaby.

“He’s come on in leaps and bounds, learning how to interact with adults for the first time and engage with other children.

“Arlo can never be left alone because he doesn’t really talk or communicate and he suffers from a serious eating disorder called Pica.

“He has a compulsion to eat stones, gravel, sand and the plaster in between wall tiles.

“The problem started when he was about one and it could kill him so he needs watching round the clock.”

Megan, who lives with partner James Perry, 28, said Leicestershire has been meeting Arlo’s ‘high needs’ funding while Northamptonshire has bankrolled his government-funded hours.

“He goes to Daffodils every Wednesday afternoon for four hours.

“We want him to step that up to 15 hours a week from April to bring him on even more,” she said.

“That’s going to be absolutely essential because we’d like Arlo to go up to Birkett House special needs school in Wigston in September.

“The extra hours would cost us about £84 a week if we are forced to fork out.

“I just think that’s so unfair because Arlo is entitled to receive the same nursery schooling as his big sister.

“Every child has a right to a good education.

“But Leicestershire tells us Northants should pay because Daffodils is over the border.

“Northants insists it’s Leicestershire’s responsibility because we live in Harborough.

“The sooner they end their stand-off the better for all of us.

“And there must be many more parents out there on the county line stranded like this – it can’t just be us.”

A Leicestershire County Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the concerns the family have over funding for their son and we recognise that accessing the ‘right’ education and support for a child is important.”

She added: “Inclusion Funding arrangements have been in place since September 2019.

“This will continue after April if the nursery makes a further application.

“We will continue to work with Northamptonshire County Council to review their funding arrangements and needs.”

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of this issue.

“We are doing all we can to resolve it as quickly as possible.”