Brendan Smith: Urgent need to improve services for children with Special Needs

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has called for an amendment of the Disability Act 2005 to enable children who need additional supports to have a right in law to appropriate services and not just an entitlement to an assessment of needs as provided for at present.

Speaking after a further Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann on the matter, the Cavan/Monaghan TD stated: “More and more families are waiting for assessments and follow up supports for children and timely intervention is absolutely essential. Access to appropriate education is often dependent on assessments by psychologists.”

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, in his reply to Deputy Brendan Smith’s Parliamentary Question stated: “In the context of improving services, the Department of Health is currently working with the HSE in order to bolster the capacity of the respective Children’s Disability Network Teams throughout the country, in order to provide both Assessments of Need and quicker access to therapy supports than are currently available.

“In this regard, HSE recruitment for therapy posts continues and there is ongoing engagement with the Heads of Disability Services across the nine CHOs to review service provision. In parallel, detailed discussions are ongoing with relevant stakeholders and representative groups in relation to a revised approach to the Assessment of Need, one which seeks to be both legally compliant and ensure a timely pathway to therapeutic interventions.”

The Minister concluded: “There are no plans to progress a review of the Disability Act, although the Department does keep its legislative programme under ongoing review.”