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PRESS RELEASE: National Report on Children's Disability Network Staff Census & Workforce Review 2022

Press Statement on the National Report on Children’s Disability Network Team Staff Census and Workforce Review 2022


On Tuesday 28th of February, F.U.S.S Ireland received the National Report of Children’s Disability Networks Team Staff Census and Workforce Review for 2022 ( Report attached). It consists of a 35-page document clearly outlining the staffing levels in Children’s Disability Services in Ireland. We are shocked and appalled at the stark reality of the Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) staffing levels. We urgently request a meeting with the relevant government ministers to discuss this truly shocking report and ensure progress is made.


Below are just some of the issues highlighted and are of great concern to parents/carers of children (age 0-18 years) with disabilities.


● As the lead employer of CDNTs, the HSE managed to retain just 61% of its staff in 2022 with the overall vacancy rate across the 91 teams increasing by 6%. 57 teams have vacancy rates above the national average of 34%, with Wexford, Cork, Waterford, Meath and parts of Dublin being the worst affected. (See pg 4-7)


● Since 2021, our therapist staffing levels have grown from 1173.28 to 1183.01, a marginal increase of 9.73 WTE posts filled. In comparison, non-therapeutic roles increased from 709.37 to 919.21, an increase of 209.84 posts. In 2022, we saw a reduction of 60 thousand therapy hours for children. The effect of this is felt by teams nationally. (See Staffing Census 2021 for comparisons)


● The allocation of 210 extra posts is deemed irrelevant when posts from 2021 have yet to be filled. A workforce of just under 1400 people is not enough to adequately meet the needs of children with disabilities in this country. Caseloads among CDNTs are frighteningly above safe standards and best practice. Without intervention in many cases, children and their families are struggling and are increasingly concerned about the future for their children.


● Examples of the failed Progressing Disability Services (PDS) system are as follows:


A CDNT in CHO5, has a caseload of 640 children and the current number of staff available is 12.94 (Vacancy rate of 37%). Therapeutic hours available per the report stand at 5481 per annum (adjusted based on the Haddington Road directive, employee leave, training days and AON requirements). This results in a mere 8.5 hours available per child, per year. (Provided staffing levels remain static).



A CDNT in CHO8, has a caseload of 1109 children and the current number of staff available is 16.8 (Vacancy rate of 51%). Therapeutic hours available per the report stand at 6,875 per annum (adjusted based on the Haddington Road directive, employee leave, training days and AON requirements). This results in a mere 6.2 hours available per child, per year. (Provided staffing levels remain static).



A CDNT in CHO4, has a caseload of 555 children and the current number of staff available is 13.5 (Vacancy rate of 38%). Therapeutic hours available per the report stand at 5,815 per annum (adjusted based on the Haddington Road directive, employee leave, training days and AON requirements). This results in a mere 10.4 hours available per child, per year. (Provided staffing levels remain static).


(See Pg 11-13 for Therapy Hours)


NB: These hours encompass any and all care relative to the child including therapeutic intervention, accessing and completion of paperwork, IFSP, phone calls, webinars, parent education courses, group work etc. Thus further reducing possible access to therapeutic interventions.


● Despite funding of €105 million allocated to Disability Services for 2022, we have seen a meagre increase in total staffing levels of 27.42WTE (28) people. This clearly highlights a recruitment and retention problem likely due immense caseloads, pressurised working conditions and inadequate employee welfare supports, compounding an already overstretched and under-resourced service. This claim is further supported by the report’s documented increase of Long-Term Sick Leave standing at 62%. (See Pg 29)



● The lack of pay parity between Section 38/39 teams is unacceptable and action must be taken immediately by the Government to ensure equality and tackle retention. Teams all across the country are decimated, as staff leave for better pay and conditions elsewhere, leaving thousands of children with no hope of essential therapeutic intervention and support.



● Funding of Disability Services is dramatically below the recommendations outlined in “The Disability Capacity Review to 2032” published by the government in 2021. The report states that in 2022, the allocation of €350-600 million to disability services was necessary to address the unmet need. In Budget 2022, €105m was sanctioned, with a further €138m allocated for this year. Less than half of the funding recommended was approved. The government repeatedly advises us funding isn’t an issue but yet refuses to allocate what is necessary to provide adequate disability support and services.


Children with disabilities are being consistently failed by the Progressive Disability Service. We request immediate cross-party action. We simply cannot allow this disaster to continue. The H.S.E patchwork the system and scratch their head in confusion while we sit here with the experience that only comes from attempting to navigate this system from start to finish, ready and begging for change. We will not allow our children to disappear from their communities, we will not allow our children to become invisible, it is time to make a fuss.







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