I was delighted to recently see the new Danu Community Special School get off to a start and hope to see students spend many happy days here. It is important the school avails of all the facilities/services it deserves. As part of this, I recently questioned the Minister for Education and the Minister for Health about their plans to provide the school with full-time speech and language and occupational therapists.
The Ministers’ transferred the question to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. The HSE responded:
The development of increased access for children with Special Educational Needs in Dublin 15 is a positive development for children and families in the area and is very welcome news for Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City and County (CHO DNCC).
In CHO DNCC access to multi-disciplinary supports is contingent on a combination of factors. These include the prioritisation of need, referral date, diagnosis, children linked with Tusla as per the HSE/Tusla Memorandum of Understanding and high risks. The focus for our multidisciplinary teams is to optimise existing resources through risk assessment, prioritisation, provision of supports using universal and group interventions, partnership with key stakeholders (Parents, Teachers, Special Needs Assistants, Carers, Children’s Disability Services providers and Dublin City Council) to promote implementation of recommendations with children across a 24 hour day.
Disability Services for children are currently delivered in the Dublin 15 area by the following providers:
– HSE Early Intervention Team (for children 0-5 years)
– Daughters of Charity Services for Children with Learning Disability (for children with moderate/
severe and profound learning disability +/- Autism)
– Central Remedial Clinic (for children with significant physical disability)
– Beechpark Autism Services (for children with Autism where there is not a significant learning
disability who attend ASD Units)
– School Age Disability Team (for children 5-14 years attending mainstream classes and not linked
to other disability services)
– Child Vision
– HSE Primary Care Paediatric Services
– HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS
Some innovative approaches have also been adopted by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in other schools in Dublin North City and County in providing in-school supports such as Behaviour specialists. These innovations through the NCSE are very positive as they enhance the supports that are delivered through the HSE, whilst also providing the targeted support that schools may be seeking to support children in accessing their curriculum.
In line with HSE policy on Children’s Disability Services (Progressing Disability Services), we are working towards a reconfiguration of how children’s disability services are delivered. The Progressing Disability Services (PDS) model will identify clear pathways for all children with a disability who require services across Disability services, Primary Care and Mental Health services. The model will be based on the child’s home address as part of agreed referral criteria.
The availability of resources to meet the growing needs of children living in Dublin 15 is an ongoing challenge. The child population in the area has increased by 21% between 2011 and 2016. There has also been a year on year increase in diagnosis of children with Autism through Early Intervention Teams and the Assessment of Need process. There has been an increase in clinical resources however the resource is not commensurate with the rate of increase in demand for services.
The integration of and planning of services around children with complex disability needs and their families is of paramount importance in our service planning. Managers and clinicians in CHO DNCC Disability Services strive to maintain open channels of communication with all services that may be involved in supporting children with complex disability needs. I have brought your query to the attention of Managers and Clinicians in order to iterate the importance of maintaining close collaboration.