The Government has failed to deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to reduce children’s waiting times for early intervention services, with wait times significantly increasing instead, National’s spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Nicola Willis says.
“In May last year the Prime Minister announced her intention to reduce the waiting list for pre-schoolers needing extra help. At that time she said the average wait was 74 days, ‘and in the life of a little 3- or 4-year-old child who’s hungry to learn, that’s 74 days too long’.
“But we can reveal that the waiting time has ballooned out to an average of 106 days.
“In some regions it’s even worse, with children in Wellington waiting an astounding 178 days on average for early intervention support.
“This will be incredibly disappointing for families who know their children need extra help but who are waiting months and months for much-needed specialist help. The Prime Minister says she has made children her priority, but the 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 significantly affects their ability to participate and learn at home or in early childhood education.
“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. The Government needs to stop making empty promises and get on with ensuring shorter wait times for families in need of early intervention services for their children.
“Under National, the average wait time for early intervention support had been trending downwards. The previous National Government 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.”