Clare children’s primary and additional needs not being met - Violet-Anne Wynne TD
Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has revealed some figures in relation to children on waiting lists she received in response to a parliamentary question.
Teachta Wynne said:
“In the Joint Oireachtas Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Committee meeting earlier this month, witnesses discussed Prevention and Early Intervention and the increased investment that is needed to take these proven approaches to improving children’s lives.
“200,000 children are living in poverty in Ireland right now. Disadvantaged children have been doubly disadvantaged over the Covid period with the removal of many formal and informal support systems.
“Over the pandemic period, there was a 25% rise in domestic violence, which means that more children were exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which have been shown to have serious repercussions later in life.
“In Clare specifically, I have been researching the level of unmet need that has been accumulating for children in the county in terms of both routine primary health and the relevant supports for children with additional needs.
“In terms of primary health needs. More than half of the babies born over the pandemic period are on waiting lists for their first developmental check. This means that this child is literally starting life as part of a backlog and is symptomatic of how reactionary this government is and is completely unacceptable.
“Across the country, 29,000 children have been waiting for appointments from the HSE for over 18 months.
“In Clare alone, there are 408 children awaiting an eye appointment, while 3,228 children are awaiting dental appointments.
“In terms of additional needs, in 2018, 2019 and 2020 the number of children who were referred for Assessments of Needs that were seen within the legally mandated window of 12 weeks was never more than 10%. This means that nine in every 10 children’s needs were being neglected and the State was not in compliance with the Disability Act 2005.
“I have been informed that there are 388 children in Clare and North Tipperary awaiting an initial Speech and Language Therapy appointment. This flies in the face of early intervention and its importance and as a parent, it is deeply concerning and disappointing.
“There are more than 10,000 children waiting across the whole state just for their first appointment. The witnesses at the Committee meeting flagged the fact that even after this first appointment has occurred, there can and usually is a significant lag between the first and follow-up intervention.
“2,559 children are awaiting CAMHS interventions nationally. In Clare there is no dietician or eating disorder qualified staff member operating from Ennis General Hospital or University Hospital Limerick, which is a massive oversight taking into consideration the rise of eating disorders for our youth and teens in recent times.
“I will continue my work to fully understand the major gaps in service provision for Clare’s children and will hold relevant ministers to account.”