St.Catherine’s send out SOS as HSE implement futher cuts

St.Catherine's school, Newcastle (Pic.Shayne Phelan)

The Board of Directors of St. Catherine’s Association Ltd have issued a statement following more cuts from the HSE.

Dear Parent of Guardian

The HSE has implemented a reduction in core funding granted to St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. in the sum of half a million euros over six months, that is E81k per month. St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. received no written or verbal notice of this reduction. We believe that this decision directly contradicts the statement of Minister Kathleen Lynch that no funding reductions will be applied to the disability sector in 2014.

The HSE have stated that St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. have expended HSE funds on education provision and this is the justification for the reduction in core funding. St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. has advised the HSE in advance of the reduction in core funding that the process has already begun to ensure HSE is funding is not spent on education. The Department of Education and Skills will fund the provision of outreach centres for school classes in Avalon and Woodmount for the forthcoming school year. The leases on the properties are to be put in the name of the school Board of Management.

As a result of this action by the HSE St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. must complete a review of every aspect of service delivery and expenditure will need to be conducted. There will be significant changes needed immediately to meet the shortfall of E81k in monthly funding.

Each area of the service which is funded by the HSE will be effected, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy physiotherapy, psychology, nursing, respite, positive behavioural support etc. The only areas of the service which will not be affected are the residential service and the special national school. However, clinical supports within the school will be reviewed.

St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. has queried the figure of the alleged expenditure on education provision as we believe the figure is based a flawed analysis of our expenditure. We await the HSE full response.

The HSE policy in relation to preschool services for children with disabilities relates to children with complex needs. However, there is no definition of ‘complex needs’ and therefore it is difficult to know precisely what preschool provision will comply with HSE policy. The HSE have indicated that the model adopted by St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. does not meant there policy guidelines.

At recent meetings the HSE confirmed to St Catherine’s Association Ltd. that it will no longer provide funding for new children to enrol from the waiting list into any early intervention classes in St Catherine’s Association Ltd. However, the HSE have confirmed they will continue to fund those students in St. Catherine’s already attending HSE funded preschool classes for one year to end in June 2015.

The sad fact is that St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. is a charity entirely reliant on HSE funding with no other independent source of funding. Therefore while we know our service model has provided an excellent service to children aged between birth and eighteen years for many years we must now review every aspect of that service to remain viable into the future.

The Board of Directors are continuing to seek parents to come forward to act as company directors. We do not believe it is sustainable for only four parents to take responsibility for the entire service. This is the fourth time this year we have sought your support and hope that you will now come forward to help the St. Catherine’s and ensure we can continue to provide an excellent service to all our families.

There are very significant changes proposed in the area of provision of services to children with special needs. We ask all parents to familiarise themselves with the HSE’s Progressing Disability Swervices policy due to be introduced in Wicklow next year. The implications for service provision are far reaching and wide ranging. You will be in better position to advocate for your child if you are familiar with the policy.

A meeting is scheduled between St. Catherine’s Association Ltd. and the HSE for the 10th July, 2014. It is hoped that this meeting will bring some clarity to the position.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of St. Catherine’s Association Ltd.

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