Overdue assessments of need failing vulnerable children – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Rights Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD is calling for urgent address of the waiting lists for assessment of needs under the Disability Act 2005 for children with additional needs.
In a recently received reply to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Deputy Ó Caolain, it has been found that at the end of Quarter One 2019 there were 3,568 children across the State awaiting an assessment of need which is a legislative right.
Teachta Ó Caoláin said;
“The current Government are failing very vulnerable children across the state and their families.
“We have known for some time now that there is a crisis in provision of supports and services for children with disabilities.
“The HSE allude to this crisis in their reply. They say that 'the clinical teams who complete the assessments are also the teams who deliver intervention', that there are 'structural' and 'resource' challenges that impact on each CHO’s capacity to deal effectively with AON compliance and 'additional resources are required'.
“The 3,568 children who need their assessments to be carried out can only receive these assessments and early interventions when investment is made and capacity is increased. Recruitment of new staff and retention of existing staff is essential to addressing this.
“The Report on the Future Needs of Disability Services estimates an additional 400 posts are required to provide adequate staffing levels to meet the demand for children’s disability services.
“In all of Sinn Féin’s alternative budgets in recent years, we have asked for additional frontline staff to be employed.
"This investment would help address existing and new need, eliminate waiting lists and allow early and necessary regular interventions to take place and allow children the opportunity of leading successful and empowering lives.
“I appeal again to Government, and in advance of Budget 2020 negotiations over the Autumn period, to please prioritise the needs of children and young people with disabilities.
“We must not allow these children to be left without the specialist care they so absolutely require. We need to deliver for them and that needs to happen now.”