THE Holy Family School for the Deaf in Cabra is in danger of losing its on-site specialist Speech and Language Therapist.
Teachers and parents alike are united in fear at the impact the loss of the specialist SLT service could have on the school’s 140 pupils.
Under new plans, which are part of a HSE national programme titled ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People,’ disability services are set to be provided in a community rather than a school setting.
This would mean the speech and language therapist, who currently works full time at the school with over half the students, in either one-on-one or group sessions, would not be o This would mean the speech and language therapist, who currently works full time at the school with over half the students, in either one-on-one or group sessions, would not be on site anymore.
Parents of Holy Family School students, who have petitioned both the Government and HSE, say the work done by the SLT is a specialist therapy for deaf children that cannot be simply replaced by treatment in the community.
They also say the impact on their children’s development, education and wellbeing “will be enormous.”
Last week the parents received a commitment from the Minister of State for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, who has previously said the HSE should resolve the matter.
In reply to a Tweet from Labour Senator Marie Sherlock, Minister Rabbitte said:
“I was indeed keen for this to be sorted so parents and the school weren’t under unnecessary strain.
“Just to not this is not an interim solution but a permanent one.
“I will be talking to HSE further on this later in the week.”
Senator Sherlock told Northside People that she welcomes the commitment from Minister Rabbitte however has reiterated that “the fight is not fully won until the HSE commit to same.”
Senator Sherlock said that the ball is now in the HSE’s court to deliver a permanent service that adequately provides for the need of the pupils in the school.
“Despite a sustained campaign by parents, the school, the board and the community, we were disappointed to see the HSE offer an “interim solution” that would last just six months with a non specialist speech and language therapist,” Senator Sherlock said
“This reflected no understanding of just how vital it is to have an on- site specialist service for the pupils in the school.
“The specialist SLT service is critical to the delivery of education in the school and to the development of its pupils and it has been a vital part of the school for over 10 years.
“Currently over 70 pupils in the school depend on the specialise service on an on going basis.
“Engaging with Minister Rabbitte again this morning, it is clear that she too agrees that a permanent solution is required, and I welcome her commitment today to ensuring that a permanent speech and language service will be provided to the School.
“I now call on the HSE to clarify its position for the School.
“The ball is now in the HSE’s court to provide this fundamental and essential service to the children. Ultimately there is a broader failure here to recognise deaf services as a specialised need within health services in this country.
“This service is absolutely crucial for the pupils’ development and education. This must be recognised by the HSE as it has been by the Minister.
“Parents, the school, the board and the community have campaigned tirelessly on this issue to retain this vital service for the children.
“I look forward to the HSE making its commitment to these pupils too.”
In a statement the HSE told Northside People:
“The HSE is in ongoing discussions with Holy Family School for the Deaf in Cabra to ensure children and families are supported and that there is no loss of healthcare service and a smooth transition over time to Progressing Disability Services.”