The Government is fully committed to protecting front-line services, including services for children with disabilities, to the greatest extent possible, notwithstanding the financial constraints within which the health sector must operate. Significant resources have been invested by the health sector in recent years in services for children with disabilities. In particular, there is now an increased awareness of the importance of early intervention for these children in terms of ensuring they get the best start in life and are supported as much as possible to reach their full potential.
The Health Service Executive's Social Care budget for 2014 is being maintained broadly in line with 2013, with targeted investment in the area of Disability Services of €14m for a number of developments, including €4m for the roll out of the Progressing Disability Programme. This should equate to approximately 80 additional therapy staff to increase services for children with disabilities. Decisions in terms of how resources will be allocated through the Progressing Disabilities Programme are a service matter for the HSE. Accordingly I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.