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Early intervention wait times increase significantly

Early intervention wait times increase significantly

The Government has failed to deliver on its commitments to reduce children’s waiting times for early intervention service with wait times increasing significantly, National’s spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Nicola Willis says.

“Families that require an early intervention appointment for their child are waiting longer than ever with wait times increasing from an average of 74 days, outlined by the Prime Minister in May, to an average of 98.2 days as of September 30 – that’s 24 days more waiting for children in need.

“This increase is in light of the Prime Minister’s previous comments in May that ‘in the life of a little 3 or 4 year old child who’s hungry to learn that’s 74 days too long’ and despite the Government increasing funding.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins today claimed that the Government’s funding for early intervention services hasn’t started yet. This is despite Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin confirming that funding for early intervention services became available on 1 July 2018.

“With eight out of ten regions having wait times of over 80 days, including a 160 day wait time in Wellington, I’m concerned the Government doesn’t have a detailed plan to deliver on the promises it made to families needing early intervention support.

“In other answers to my questions the Associate Minister also said that increases in waiting times are due to challenges in recruiting frontline staff. Given these challenges, this begs the question of how the weekend’s announcement of additional support staff will be delivered.

“When in Government National kicked off an update of learning support which included testing a new model to make accessing learning support simpler and quicker.

“What matters to children and parents is the services received not the promises made. I urge the Government to make good on its promises and ensure shorter waiting times for families in need of early intervention services for their children.”

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