Report of the National Reference Group on Multidisciplinary Disability Services for Children aged 5-18

Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People

Disability services for children have a long history in Ireland and many organisations provide excellent support and interventions for children and their families. However as they have developed independently and were often established to serve one specific group of children only, the result is that there is wide variation in the services available in different parts of the country and for different categories of disability.

We need to find a better way to provide services for all children with disabilities

The Health Service Executive working with the non-statutory and voluntary organisations they fund and others in the health, education and disability sectors, have established a national project ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People’ which will change the way services are provided. This is based on the recommendations of theReport of the National Reference Group on Multidisciplinary Services for Children aged 5-18 Years produced by representatives of the professions and management involved in delivering multi-disciplinary services to children.

Key points

Parents and families must be at the centre of all services for their children and services should be provided in partnership with them and available as close to their home as possible:

Ø      By the local primary care team (GP, public health nurse, speech and language therapist etc) when and where the child’s needs can be met there

Ø      If the child’s needs are more complex (whatever the nature of their disability) by early intervention and school age teams in each network area

Ø      The primary care and network teams should be supported as appropriate by specialist teams with a high level of expertise in particular fields

Ø      Close co-operation and teamwork between health services and schools will help children achieve their maximum potential


National Project

In the HSE Service Plan 2011 the reconfiguration of existing therapy resources for children to geographic based teams is a priority and Key Result Area.

The project is being organised at national, regional and local level and will include representatives from services (both health and education) and parents getting together to see how current services can be reorganised to achieve this better structure. This will involve careful planning and inevitably there will be challenges while the changes take place.

The aims of this project are to realise the following:


Ø      One clear pathway to services for all children according to need

Ø      Resources used to the greatest benefit for all children and families

Ø      Health and education working together to support children to achieve their potential