Government’s ‘Project’ to bring Specialised Therapists into Schools and Pre- Schools in Dublin Mid-West is extended for 2019/20 school year
Dublin Mid-West T.D. John Curran has said the Government’s In-School and In-Pre-School speech and language therapy initiative that was piloted last year in Dublin Mid-West for the school year 2018/19 has been extended to include the new school year starting this September. Deputy Curran was commenting after receiving a reply from Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on the issue; “For years now, children have not been getting the speech and language and occupational therapy needed from the State. This is resulting in long delays for initial assessments and access to essential therapy. “The proposals announced by the Government in 2018 was a start with 150 settings participating in the pilot. I welcome that 28 pre-schools, 8 primary schools and 2 post-primary schools across Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown are to be included and that the project has now been extended for the new school year 2019/20.
“However, this new initiative had no impact on the massive and increasing waiting lists for children needing speech and language therapy. “There are currently 843 patients, that are mostly children waiting for a first time speech and language assessment – an increase of 89 patients since this time last year. There are 531 patients waiting on first time initial therapy services – an increase of 144 on last year’s figures. A further 1,235 are waiting for follow up therapy – an increase of 393 since last year. Deputy Curran said, “These figures are concerning and show that improving access to Speech and Language Therapy cannot come sooner for some children and their families. “A wait of over a year for a child is simply unacceptable and early intervention is critical for children to support their development. If you consider that the early years are from birth to the age of six, then to have to wait over a year or two for treatment is very damaging.
“The integration of Speech and Language Therapists and other therapists in pre-schools and schools, working one on one with children is a real alternative necessary for the children who need it, so as they can fulfil their full potential in school and in life. Tackling these waiting lists must be a priority for our children.” concluded Deputy Curran.