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(New Zealand) Kids with "disabilities/behaviour problems" wait mouths for services

Feb 13, 2019, Wait-time blow out: Some kids left in limbo 10 months or more for disability support A blow-out in waiting times for Education Ministry support for children with disabilities and behaviour problems is leaving some children waiting 10 months or more for help. Ministry figures show the average wait for learning support jumped from 60 days at the middle of 2017 to 80 days by the end of last year, with especially long delays for under-five-year-olds, children with speech problems and children in Wellington. At the end of last year 4130 children were waiting for ministry support, including 46 who had been waiting more than 301 days (half of them in Bay of Plenty/Waiariki) and 573 who had been waiting 151-300 days. Early intervention for under-five-year-olds had an average wait time of 102 days, children needing help for speech problems were waiting an average 77 days, and children with behavioural problems were waiting an average of 48 days for help…. The principal of Berhampore School in Wellington, Mark Potter, said one of his students waited a year for help with severe behaviour problems because the Education Ministry did not have any staff available. "The child that I'm talking about, he had severe anger outbursts, emotional regulation issues, big challenges with learning, needed to be frequently removed from spaces to be able to give him time to readjust to being with people," Mr Potter said. … Even so, Mr Potter said the long wait times were not acceptable. "Waiting lists full stop are a problem. They're a euphemism for a lack of resource," he said. "The net loser is the children because they're being told they have to wait."… Head of Wellington's Whānau Manaaki Kindergarten Association, Mandy Culston, told Morning Report learning support services are "chronically underfunded". "The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have underestimated the significance of need amongst our youngest children and there's just not the resource. There are not enough people that work for learning support." A significant number of children that they work with suffer from trauma, mental health issues as well as developmental delay, she said. … "The thing that's incredibly frustrating and devastating for our staff and for the people in learning support is that hundreds of children are going to school with significant developmental delays or learning needs. … The Education Ministry's national director learning support, David Wales, said requests for help from the ministry increased 14 percent in the past five years and it was hiring more staff to try to keep up. … Jayne Newbury from the Speech-Language Therapists Association said the ministry had increased its services, but it had not kept up with growing demand especially among pre-school aged children. … She said children with speech problems had difficulty making themselves understood and needed help as soon as possible. Dr Newbury said a good intervention could help an autistic child find a way to communicate, or help a child go from being barely understandable even to their parents to speaking reasonably correctly within one or two years. …


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