Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, has announced that the HSE has commenced a process to re-instate the health and social care supports in special schools where previously they had been provided.

Announcing the update, Minister Rabbitte said: “Having listened to the ongoing concerns of parents of children with complex needs who attend special schools and mindful of this government’s priority to deliver comprehensive on-site health and social supports to special schools, the HSE was requested to commence the process of allocating further staffing resources to these schools.

“This involves the provision of an additional 136 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) posts, which is on top of the 85 re-instated posts for Special Schools that I announced in 2021. This builds on the 290 posts that I have already funded in Budget 2021 and Budget 2022, which the HSE will also continue to recruit to the Children’s Disability Network Teams.

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She continued: “Since taking up the office of Minister for Disability, I have continuously stated my commitment to the development and enhancement of children’s disability services, through the implementation of the Progressing Disability Services (PDS) Programme.

“However, it would be also disingenuous of me not to acknowledge that this change programme has been challenging for families of children and young people with complex needs.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that these children and their families must remain our focus and every effort must be made in providing the infrastructure to enhance the services offered to them.”

Following engagement with Minister Rabbitte and the Department of Health, the HSE has submitted a timeframe for the reinstatement of the 136 WTEs, which will be in 3 phases as follows:

  • reassigning existing HSE staff to fill one third of the posts in September 2022
  • filling a further one third of the posts via existing panels and supported with further reassignment through September and the autumn
  • in parallel with the first 2 Phases, a number of initiatives will be commenced immediately, including a high-profile international recruitment campaign to fill vacant OT, SLT and Physiotherapy posts

This programme of work has already commenced and will be monitored closely for the remainder of 2022 with regular communication between relevant stakeholders at a local and national level to ensure progress.

Each one of the approved additional 136 WTE posts will deliver services on a 35-hour week basis. The allocation to special schools will be aligned with the level of service and disciplines provided prior to the establishment of Children’s Disability Network Teams under the PDS Programme.

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