Minister’s promises must translate into services for children with special needs- Cullinane
Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane has given a cautious welcome to a commitment from the Minster for State for Primary and Social
Care that the South East is to be prioritisedwhen it comes to the provision of speech and language services for children and young people.
Senator Cullinane said:
“Minister Lynch went to great lengths to emphasise the government’s commitment to the
development of speech and language services for children with a disability.
“Yet three of the fifteen speech and language posts in the HSE in Waterford are currently vacant.
“My office has been contacted by parents of children who have great difficulty getting answers from the HSE with regards to diagnostic assessments for their children.
“For example, one such child referred for speech delay in November 2013 was found to have significant markers for Autism and referred for a full Diagnostic Assessment.
“In August 2014 the child’s parents enquired how long they would be waiting and were informed the assessment would take place in February or March 2015, at the latest.
“To date this child has yet to receive a full diagnostic assessment which is impacting his ability to access other important services.
He went on to say:
“According to the 2005 Disability Act all assessments on children suspected of requiring any type of special care are to be carried out within three months by the HSE.
“Yet nationally over twenty thousand children are now waiting for assessment and/or
treatment for between 6 to 18 months, some even longer.
“In this context I welcome the Minister’s statement that such delays are not acceptable and that under the Disability Act, assessments can and should take place in parallel with any interventions deemed necessary.
I also welcome the Minister’s promise to allocate additional posts to Waterford and the fact that the South East is to be prioritized for therapy posts in 2015.
“However talk is cheap and unless these commitments translate into real and concrete improvements on the ground especially in terms of services and assessment waiting lists, they are meaningless.
“We need immediate action on this issue. A failure to prioritize early intervention is unfair to children and their families, and ends up costing the state more in the long run.”