The Government has failed to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise to ensure an additional 1750 children would receive early intervention support, National’s Early Childhood Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.
“In May 2018 the Prime Minister announced additional funding for the Early Intervention Service and made a specific commitment that this would ‘see an extra 1750 children get support over the next year’. But only 626 additional children received support from the early intervention service, fewer than half what the Prime Minister promised.
“As a result children in every region of New Zealand are waiting longer for the help they need, with data showing waiting times are now significantly longer than they were in National’s final year of office.
“In the Bay of Plenty region for example families are now waiting an average of 123 days for support, up from 74 days. In some cases the wait times are even worse, with one family in the Waikato forced to wait a staggering 462 days to receive early intervention support for their child.
“This will be incredibly disappointing for families who know their children need extra specialist help but are waiting months and months for it. The Prime Minister says she has made children her priority, but her Government is letting these children down.
“The Early Intervention Service provides specialist support for young children who have a developmental or learning delay, a disability, a communication difficulty or a behaviour difficulty that affects their ability to participate and learn at home or in early childhood education.
“Under National, the average wait time for early intervention support had been trending downwards. We understood more significant change was needed and had kicked off an update of learning support which included testing a new model to make accessing learning support simpler and quicker.
“The earlier we get the right support to children with additional needs the more successful they can be. I’m sure many families and educators had their hopes raised by the Prime Minister’s announcement last year. Sadly, they have been let down.
“What matters to children and parents is the services received not the promises made. Instead of making empty promises, the Government should get on with ensuring shorter wait times for families in need of early intervention services.”