150 schools and pre-schools across the local healthcare region will take part in Pilot, bringing speech and language therapists and occupational therapists into schools and pre-schools

        
Local Fine Gael TD, Frances Fitzgerald, has welcomed the announcement of the first ever project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services. The pilot project will take place in her own local Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) Region 7 which includes West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.  

“I have been pushing for some time now to have a more integrated approach to our community health services and our Education system. The provision of in-school Speech and Language services was a core commitment of my Party in the last election which we managed to have included in the Programme for Government. This week, after a lot of background work, my colleague Minister Richard Bruton announced the pilot project aimed at getting these services up and running in our educational settings.

“Having therapists come to schools to provide the necessary interventions such as Speech and Language Therapy or Occupational Therapy, seems a more practical solution. Not only does it lessen the amount of time a child needs to be away from their classroom but it also allows the therapists and teachers to collaborate and more accurately meet the particular needs of an individual child,” said Fitzgerald.

Detailing the pilot project, Deputy Fitzgerald explained:

 
“This project sees the coming together of our State bodies and the Departments of Education and Children. It has been developed by the Department of Education and Skills in conjunction with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Health and the HSE. €2.25m is being allocated to Phase One of the project in 2018 which will be managed and coordinated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

“75 primary schools and 75 pre-schools across CHO 7 will take part in this exciting pilot during the 2018/19 school year. Both Speech and Language and Occupational Therapists will deliver services in school to children who require additional assistance. This in-school service is intended to compliment the existing HSE funded essential therapy services and target Speech and Language issues as they arise.

“The HSE will recruit an additional 19 speech and language therapists and 12 Occupational Therapists to work with the 150 schools and pre-schools. The NCSE will also recruit 2 National Co-ordinators to manage the project. Getting all these bodies to coordinate and work together has taken a lot of work but is clearly the best way forward. By bringing together all the interested parties, we can deliver a better and more efficient support system for our children.”

“Supporting children as Speech and Language issues arise will benefit their overall educational outcomes in the long-term, as well as make school a happier and more inclusive experience for them. I look forward to seeing how this pilot progressing in the upcoming school year and how best we can open this out to more schools in the future,” concluded Fitzgerald.