Speech and Language Therapy Services are under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Health, and the service is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Questions in relation to the provision of speech and language therapy services should therefore be referred to the Department of Health and the HSE.
The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services has been introduced for the 2018/19 school year.
The demonstration project has been developed by a Working Group which includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The project is being managed and co-ordinated by the National Council for Special Education with clinical support also being provided by two HSE Therapy Managers which have been assigned to the project.
The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services.
The project is taking place in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.
This region has been selected to ensure that the pre-school and in-school therapy model can be tested in both urban and rural locations and with a suitable mix of various types of schools and pre-schools.
75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools are taking part in the project.
75 Pre-school settings associated with primary schools participating in the project are being included in order to provide for therapy interventions to be made at the earliest possible time and to create linkages between pre-school and primary school provision.
In total, 150 settings are participating in the demonstration project.
The list of the participating schools and pre-schools has been published on my Department's website.
As the project has been taking place in the region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow, only schools from this area could be selected for participation in the demonstration project.
Decisions in relation to the extension of the service to other areas or Counties will be taken following an evaluation of the pilot phase.
In the interim, children who require speech and language therapy services and who are not attending one of the pilot schools will continue access services from the Health Service Executive.