Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, has expressed concern about the new assessment of needs system, which she believes is failing children and families.
She made her comments after parents and child development experts attended a meeting of the Oireachtas Children’s Committee.
Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Children, voiced a number of concerns during the committee meeting.
“It is clear that the new system introduced by the Government is not working, and that proper consultation is not being carried out with child psychologists and occupational therapists. These experts know what best practice is and confirmed to the committee that they have not been consulted about this new model – and have expressed this concern to the HSE.
“They believe that the 90-minute assessment under the new model is not fit for purpose and is failing children. But they also said that even if this model did work for children, they would still need the necessary staffing and infrastructure which are currently not in place.
“Questions were also asked regarding the legality of the new reforms, as it is believed that the statutory right to assessment cannot be provided under the new system.
“Most worrying is that parents are also not being adequately consulted about how this new system is working. I commend the two women who came into the committee from the Enough is Enough campaign and spoke movingly about how difficult it has been fighting for their children’s rights.
“Many parents are forced to go to the courts when supports are not provided for their children, even though it is clear their child has additional needs and it is their statutory right to access State supports.
“For this reason, I am calling on the Minister to pause the rolling out of this new system of assessing children with additional needs until proper and effective consultation is carried out with child professionals and parents – and until adequate staffing and resources are in place to implement reform.”
December 8, 2020