Almost half (45 per cent) of speech and language therapists, recently surveyed by the RCSLT, said that they lack the time and resources to provide services to children and young people with communication problems who do not have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
The survey also revealed gaps in joint commissioning arrangements for children and young people aged 0-2 and 18-25, with 43 per cent of respondents commenting that speech and language therapy support was not being commissioned for these groups.
RCSLT CEO, Kamini Gadhok MBE, says: “This is alarming, as we already know from the Department for Education that 86 per cent of children and young people (almost nine out of ten) who have communication problems as their primary need do not have an EHC plan.
“Our members have sent a clear message that due to local budget cuts and changes to commissioning priorities these vulnerable children and young people are at risk of not getting the support they need. Research has shown that vocabulary difficulties at a young age are associated with poor literacy, mental health, and employment outcomes in later life. Early speech and language support is vital to children’s success and action must be taken.”
The charity has urged the government to address this issue with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups before full implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability reforms in March 2018.