Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward says children with disabilities are being neglected because of a lack of Early Intervention and school age disability services in Kilkenny. HSE figures released to Fianna Fáil through a Parliamentary Question reveal that there are no Early Intervention Teams and no network disability services for children in Kilkenny.
Mr Aylward commented, “Children in Kilkenny are being failed miserably by this Government. Despite promises to prioritise mental health services, children in this area have no access to Early Intervention Teams or even to school age disability services. These children have complex needs, yet have been effectively abandoned by the Government.
“It is absolutely appalling that some of the most vulnerable children in Kilkenny do not have a dedicated service to facilitate access to psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers. There is a massive regional imbalance in the spread of Early Intervention Teams, with Kilkenny being left far behind. What’s equally worrying is the fact that there also appears to be a socio-economic divide. Many of the places without these key services are high density, working class areas. The main benefit of early intervention is to prevent more serious long term problems, and lack of access is leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment.
“The situation in Kilkenny is being replicated throughout the country, and hundreds of children are being failed by the Government’s lack of urgency in addressing the situation. Minister Kathleen Lynch has overseen an underspend of the mental health budget at a time when children are left without essential services. There has been a €6.7m underspend in mental health services since this Government came to power. This Government’s priorities are wrong. Instead of focusing on improved health and other services, it is more focused on tax cuts and PR stunts.
“Fine Gael and Labour must reassess their approach to this key area and stand up for the disability sector. Instead of diverting money away from essential therapies and services, funds should be ring fenced to ensure that these services are delivered and that delays are eradicated. It is unacceptable that these vulnerable children are being forced to wait for vital developmental treatments, while the Government shifts its focus to tax giveaways in the budget”.