February 25, 2021
Fairness needed in rollout of In-School Speech & Language and Occupational Therapy – Violet-Anne Wynne TD

Sinn Féin TD and member of the Joint Committee on Disability Matters Violet-Anne Wynne, has written to the Minister asking for fairness in the way the new ‘In-School & In-Pre School Therapy Services Demonstration Project’ will be rolled out further.

The Clare TD said:
“The ‘In-School’ provision of therapy is very welcome, but it is unfair to be kite-flying this scheme without a fully funded plan for children in all counties to be able to benefit from it.

“At this week’s Joint Committee on Disability Matters, Minister Madigan spoke of the plan to recruit at least 80 Speech & Language and Occupational Therapists for the new ‘In-School’ project.

“I have written to the Minister asking for more details, particularly around what the plan would mean for children in County Clare for example, since the pilot scheme has so far only benefited some areas of Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.

“As any parent of a child with additional needs will know, accessing supports can be extremely difficult depending on where you live and what supports your child needs.

“This scheme is welcome because it means children will receive therapy in their school or pre-school setting and will not have to be taken out of school to travel to the appointments.

“It appears the Minister is taking an area by area approach to the roll-out of the new scheme. It is masquerading as a continued pilot project, rather than a fair and transparent plan to deliver therapy services for children with additional educational needs.

“It is also not clear how the provision of therapy services in the schools will work alongside the provision of therapy services delivered by the HSE.

“The HSE provision of Speech & Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy, as well as other wrap-around services for those with additional needs, has not resumed since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It seems the new ‘In-school’ provision of therapy services will not reach most schools any time soon, and when I asked about the HSE services, the Minister did not address whether a roadmap to resuming the HSE provision of therapy will be forthcoming any time soon either.

“Parents, children and families are beyond frustrated waiting to find out when these supports can return in line with public health measures – and they need to hear affirmative responses around plans to resume services.”

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