Children with special educational needs and disabilities are being failed by Government reforms which are riddled with bureaucratic nightmares, buck-passing and strained resources, East Cork Cllrs have claimed.
A cross party group has warned of overwhelming evidence that, despite good intentions, a generation of East Cork youth is being let down both by the HSE and Government Departments.
Cork County Council is set to discuss the issue next month, following the backing of a Motion by Cllr James O’Connor seeking better supports for children with learning and development difficulties, to enable them access appropriate services.
Cllr O’Connor said the current shortage of services in the Municipal District is forcing families to give up work hours in order to progress their children onto Secondary school, to find available Secondary education.
He said urgent improvements in the capacity of educational facilities are needed in East Cork to cater for children with learning and development difficulties.
“People are forced, because of Department of Education guidelines and HSE facilities in existence in the constituency, to travel either to Dungarvan or Cork City” said Cllr O’Connor.
Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey agreed with the Fianna Fail Cllr stating there is a “huge” issue with school spaces for people who are in need of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Unit (ASD).
“Every child and teenager deserves an education. It’s one of their most basic rights. That opportunity hasn’t been given to them because not every school has an ASD unit.”
Cllr Susan McCarthy, however, said East Cork has a good share of ASD units in its schools. The Fine Gael Cllr said the biggest problem is the waiting list to have children diagnosed.
“We need to address screening, particularly in East Cork. It was highlighted that we have the worst waiting lists in the Country” she said.
Green Party Cllr Liam Quaide, a Clinical Psychologist, said “It is a huge issue facing families.”
“Early intervention is crucial in children reaching their long-term potential.”
He said Cllr O’Connor’s agenda item was worthy of two Motions, one seeking more ASD and special education units, and a second seeking immediate action to cut assessment waiting times.
The Midleton based Cllr said by doing this it would reduce the amount of Government spin coming back at Council.
All 55 Cllrs will be asked to put their weight behind the Motion at full Council next month.