Labour calls for cross-party support on action for children waiting for autism and disability supports

23 May 2023
  • Dáil motion on Wednesday (24th May, 10am) will call for immediate provision of financial relief for parents and caregivers forced to pay for private assessments and therapies until backlogs are cleared

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said children with autism and disabilities are being failed by this Government.

Labour is calling for cross-party support of its motion in the Dáil this Wednesday to end assessment delays, tackle the multi-year waiting lists for therapies and improve the current lack of access to education supports and appropriate school places for children.

Deputy Smith said:

“On Wednesday, the Labour Party will demand immediate provision of financial relief for parents and caregivers forced to pay for local, private assessments and therapies. Working with Cara Darmody, and her family, who have campaigned for better, swifter access to services for those with autism, we are determined to advocate for a step-change in autism and disability services in Ireland.

“The Darmody family secured funding from the HSE for a private assessment of their sons. Since then, Mark Darmody and his daughter Cara have advocated for change, but why should families be in a constant battle with the State?

“Labour are demanding increased accountability from the HSE in relation to Child Disability Services. If funding is available for families like the Darmody’s to receive private assessments, then it must be made available to the thousands of children waiting for their assessment.

“We know that a change of approach is needed. Government are failing to provide a fair start to the children of Ireland. Families who can afford to are opting to go the private route. This deeply inequitable way of doing business must end.

“As of March 2023, 10,696 children have been waiting for over 12 months for initial contact with a Children’s Disability Network Team (CDNT), an increase of 836 since December, and 17,157 were waiting in total.

“Early intervention is paramount. These waiting times are nothing short of a national scandal. That’s why we are calling for cross-party support of Labour’s motion to make a difference to the lives of the families affected.

“For so many people, the increased cost of living is crippling them. There’s even more pressure on families where a child has autism or a disability. We must introduce a cost of disability payment to level the playing field for families, while also reviewing the Carers’ Allowance, and other social protection income supports, to guarantee that it meets the needs of those caring for their relatives. Government must commit to this in Budget 2024.

“This will be the third time in as many years that Labour has demanded radical change for families left behind by this Government. Each time, Government Ministers pay lip-service and promise action, yet nothing ever changes. Until we have a National Autism Strategy underpinned by legislation, to include a review of the Disability Act, Labour will continue to push for change.”

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