The work to improve services for children with disabilities is focused on two key developments, the reorganisation and improvement of service delivery, and increased resources for therapy delivery.
The HSE is working with its partner organisations to implement ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People' Programme. The 'Progressing Disability Services ' programme is about forming partnerships between all the disability organisations in an area and pooling their staff with expertise in the different types of disabilities to form local Children’s Disability Network Teams who will provide services for all children with a disability, regardless of what their disability is or where they live or go to school.
I acknowledge that access to speech and language therapy intervention for children with disabilities is variable and that waiting lists in some parts of the country are unacceptably long. I also recognise the distress this can cause families and I want to emphasise that the provision of improved services for children with disabilities and additional needs remains a priority.
As Minister for Disabilities, I want to ensure that children everywhere in the country will have access to the same timely and high quality services. Funding for an additional 100 therapy posts was secured as part of Budget 2019 in order to reduce waiting times for children for the Assessment of Needs process and also to improve access to therapy provision.
The HSE is actively drawing from panels across the various Community Healthcare Areas throughout the country with a view to filling these posts as soon as possible.
Because of the actions outlined above which I believe will deliver improved access to children's disability services including speech and language therapy intervention I do not consider it necessary to provide speech and language therapy services to children on a statutory basis.