Deputy Pearse Doherty has expressed outrage at a HSE decision to withdraw a dedicated children’s support post as part of Community Disability Services based in Dungloe.
The shocking revelation is contained in a response received by Deputy Doherty in reply to a Parliamentary Question in which he queried the progress being made by the HSE to fill the vacant Community Facilitator for Children with Disabilities position.
The purpose of the service is to provide supports to minors with intellectual, physical and or sensory disabilities who reside at home in the West Donegal area.
Reacting to the news, Deputy Doherty said: “The Community Facilitator for Disability Service, also known as a Special Needs Counsellor, is an important post within HSE Community and Disability services and is designed to support children and teenagers with an Intellectual Disability or Physical and or Sensory Disability who live at home.
“They work as part of Early Intervention teams for children and young people and they are a key resource person in the planning and provision of services which aim to meet the child’s specific and assessed needs.”
The community-based role provides support to the child and his or her family through home visits, in the clinical setting as well as over the phone.
Deputy Doherty added that one of the many reasons why the post is so important is because the Community Facilitator is responsible for referring children to the appropriate support services such as carer and respite services, dedicated social and recreational programmes, as well as providing guidance to families on the different benefits and allowances they may be eligible to receive.
He added “Unfortunately, the previous post holder retired from the role in April last year and since then many families throughout the region have contacted me to query when a replacement would be hired to take up the position.
“Shockingly, following a Dáil Question I tabled a few weeks ago, the HSE has written to me to confirm that it has no plans to reallocate its existing resources in order to fill this vacant post in Dungloe.
“In the letter, the HSE states that following a review of the post and after having taken account of budgetary considerations, it does not have the capacity at present to fill the vacancy while working within its existing budget.
“This is simply outrageous and yet again highlights the complete lack of concern which this Government has for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“This decision is one which effectively tells families of children living with a disability that they don’t matter and that their needs are not a priority – that is appalling and wrong.”