The provision of services for children and teenagers with a developmental delay or disability has historically been a patchy affair in Ireland.
A 2009 report from the HSE, tasked with looking at how interventions and services were being delivered, concluded there were “varying provision and resources”, leaving some children unable to “access an appropriate and timely service”.
A year later, a National Progressing Disability Services (PDS) programme was announced, aiming to provide accessible service to children no matter where they live or attend school. Yet, over a decade later, the rollout of the PDS programme is still not complete.
Last summer, for example, the HSE apologised to north Dublin parents for a delay in setting up the 12 Children's Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) in their area that it said was caused by a combination of the pandemic and the cyber attack on its systems.
Parents and concerned organisations are adamant, however, that the overall rollout itself is problematic, with month-long gaps in access to therapies where families are transferred from their old service providers to CDNTs.
Special schools have also reported that they have had specialist therapists removed - and not replaced - in order to fill posts on the new centralised teams.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to measure the impact of the Progressing Disability Services rollout on the children and families whose opportunities and lives it set out to improve.
We will speak with families affected by delays and communication issues with the HSE and CDNTs to establish if the service is actually creating new gaps in access.
We will also investigate what resources are being allocated to the transition of children nationwide to the PDS model - and whether those are adequate to make it a success.
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