News & Media

Children in Ireland are being "failed" by the State

30 July 2020

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
Ivana-Profile-2

The Labour Party’s Seanad group leader and party Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality & Integration has highlighted what she describes as the State’s “failure” in its duty of care to children, following the publication of HSE figures on special needs assessment waiting times.

Speaking about waiting times for special needs assessments, Senator Bacik said:

“The figures released by the HSE this morning are shocking. The average waiting time to get a special needs assessment is 19 months and more than 5,000 children in Ireland are waiting longer than the legally mandated time. As per the Disability Act 2005, the law states that special needs assessments must be commenced within 3 months of the date of application and must be completed within 6 months.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to assessing needs such as autism; children and their families are without essential supports because this backlog has developed. It must be tackled as a matter of urgency to prevent developmental problems from arising in children who are without vital supports such as access to an occupational therapist or a psychologist because they are still waiting for a formal assessment.

“Labour’s general election manifesto included a policy to redirect resources towards early intervention for young children with special needs, to reduce waiting times and to improve outcomes. I fully support calls from groups who are calling on the HSE to redeploy staff to address the differences in waiting times between affluent areas and disadvantaged areas.”