Moloney welcomes additional funding for disability, mental health and suicide prevention.
Mr. John Moloney, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, has welcomed the Government’s decision announced today (14th October 2008) to provide an additional €20 million for health and education services for children with special educational needs.
€10 million of this allocation will be provided to the HSE, and €10million to the Department of Education and Science, to enable health and educational support services provided to children with special educational needs to be enhanced and strengthened.
The Minister said “I am heartened that, even in these straitened times, it has been possible to continue to make progress in this vital area. This funding will allow the provision of a total of 125 additional therapy posts in the HSE targeted at children of school-going age. 90 of these will be in the disability services, including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists. 35 additional posts will be provided for child and adolescent mental health services, including clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists for new and existing multi-disciplinary teams.”
The funding allocated to the Department of Education & Science will provide for an expansion of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) so that so that all schools in the country will be covered by the service as well as enhancing the capacity of the National Council for Special Education to co-ordinate the provision of services to children with special educational needs. In addition teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children’s needs and there will be further investment in teacher training in this area.
Minister Moloney also announced that €1.75m will be made available to the HSE in 2009 on a once-off basis for initiatives in relation to suicide prevention, in particular targeting young people, and for various measures to support service users and carers in the mental health services.
The Minister of State also confirmed that there will be a renewed focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the Disability Sector going forward.
“Almost €1 billion is provided annually to non-statutory providers of disability services, ranging from very small agencies to organisations with budgets of many millions and hundreds of employees. Against that background, and in the context of tightening resource availability, it is critical that we confirm that we are achieving as much efficiency and effectiveness as we can, and delivering the best possible outcome for those who need these services.” the Minister explained. As part of the overall efficiency savings required of the HSE, allocations to non-statutory disability agencies will be reduced by 1% in 2009. It is expected that these efficiency savings will be achieved in non-frontline operations such as advertising, PR, travel and subsistence and management/administrative payroll costs. The Minister also intends very shortly to establish a Group to carry out a review of the non-statutory disability sector to examine the scope for further efficiencies, while having particular regard to the need to maintain and improve the standard of frontline services to patients and clients.