Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke has criticised the Government for failing to deliver on its commitment for children living with disabilities.
Deputy O’Rourke made the comments after raising a special Dáil debate on the issue and highlighting the growing delays children are experiencing in accessing vital assessment of need for services such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physiotherapy.
Deputy O’Rourke said, “The Government has said that it is increasing investment in services for children living with disabilities but we aren’t seeing this investment on the ground. The reality is that children aren’t experiencing an increase in services. Rather they are actually finding it increasingly difficult to access the services they need to live a full and active life.
“Children living with disabilities are experiencing an unacceptable delay in accessing an assessment of need. This needs to be carried out before a care plan can be implemented to deliver the services that children living with disabilities need. The delay in giving children access to an assessment of need is inevitably having a knock on delay in assigning the disability services that they need.
“Many children are forced to wait between 18 and 24 months between their assessment of need and the implementation of their care plan. This is particularly damaging for children as all the medical evidence highlights that a delay in intervention has a lasting negative impact on their lives. It’s vital that appropriate supports are put in place as early as possible.
“Furthermore, there is also a delay in providing the follow up review of the care plan of a child’s need. This should be carried out within 2 years of the care plan being put in place. However this isn’t happening and children are missing out on the support services that they need as a result of this.
“The Government needs to stop paying lip-service to children living with disabilities. We simply aren’t seeing the level of services needed on the ground to help support children living with disabilities. There are delays in accessing occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and respite care services are non-existent. This is inexcusable.”