More than 500 children waiting to have their special needs assessed

The figure came as a response to Clare Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne. Photo: Facebook.

THERE are more than 500 children across Limerick and the Mid West waiting for a basic assessment so they can get the supports that are appropriate to their needs.

Information provided to Clare Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne in reply to a parliamentary question revealed that there are currently 501 children across the Mid West waiting for assessments of need (AON).

In an embargoed reply received by Deputy Wynne to a question asked in November 2023, Mary O’Malley, head of service for HSE Mid West Disability Services, advised that 501 children in the Mid West region were awaiting assessments of need.

She further advised that in order to address the backlog, Mid West Children’s Disability Networks’s (CDNT) Governance Group have developed a dedicated resource.

It was agreed to allocate four new development posts to an AON Pathway Team, which is solely dedicated to the completion of AON assessments.

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But so far, the service provider has only been able to recruit two of the four development posts.

Deputy Wynne said that “it is deeply regrettable that only two of the four posts have been filled and I would hope that HSE Disability Services will embark on an aggressive campaign of recruitment to fill the other two posts”.

“I am also deeply disappointed that these posts were seconded directly from CDNT staff in the region, as opposed to other areas where an external recruitment process took place.

“While I welcome the filling of half of these posts, I am concerned that at least one CDNT in the Mid West now has a reduced staffing complement, in addition to the number of vacancies that already exist within these teams.”

The Deputy said that the Minister for State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, has provided extra resources to tackle the problem.

“I want to advise any parents reading this who are concerned about services for their child that an assessment of need is not required in order to access a CDNT or primary care service.

“A child can be referred  by a healthcare professional or a parent/carer to the CDNT for children with complex needs as a result of their disability, or to primary care for children with non-complex needs”.

But she added that the waiting lists for first contact with these services “can be quite long”.

“However I have worked closely with the Minister and her officials to get the waiting list down, and I will continue to work in collaboration with her to that end.”