While no additional funding was provided in Budget 2020 for the assessment of needs process, the previous year's Budget provided funding for an additional 100 therapy posts to help reduce the long waiting times for assessment of need and enable children with disabilities to access timely assessment and intervention. Some of these posts are in place and many others are at varying stages of the recruitment process. The HSE is endeavouring to fill all 100 posts by the end of the year.
In addition, HSE Disability Services is currently engaged in a major reconfiguration of its existing therapy resources for children with disabilities into multi-disciplinary geographically based teams, as part of its National Programme on Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People (0-18 years).
The key objective of this Programme is to bring about equity of access to disability services and consistency of service delivery, with a clear pathway for children with disabilities and their families to services, regardless of where they live, what school they go to or the nature of the individual child’s difficulties.
Evidence to date from areas where this has been rolled out shows that implementation of this programme will also have a positive impact on waiting lists both for Assessments of Need and therapy provision.
While not addressing all needs, I am confident these initiatives will have a significant positive impact in reducing waiting times for Assessment of Need over the course of the next year.