20 July 2008

Government cash is communication breakthrough

The government has announced a package worth over £50 million in an effort to improve services for children with communication needs.

It came as the Conservative MP John Bercow published a report into his review of the existing services for children and young people with communication needs. The review was commissioned by the government.

His report puts forward 40 recommendations aimed at ensuring that children with communication needs are identified at an early stage and that they receive better support.

Key recommendations include a “communication champion” to drive delivery of reforms and improve local performance; better training for professionals; and research into improving the life chances of children with communication needs.

Katie Caryer, a campaigner for people with communication impairments, welcomed the new funding and said: “This is an important move for children with all sorts of communication needs.

“I think we can be very happy about these developments. What I hope for is a move like this involving adults soon.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, also welcomed the government's announcement and said: "Currently, thousands of children and young people who need equipment to communicate are denied their right to express themselves freely.

“The review’s recommendations will be instrumental in ensuring that disabled children and their families are no longer denied the equipment and ongoing support they need or sent from pillar to post to get it."

Children, schools and families secretary Ed Balls said: "I want to ensure that all children are supported to communicate whether they are severely impaired or because they simply need help to expand their vocabulary.

“This review will make a real difference to all children who need support at both ends of the spectrum."

The government has accepted Mr Bercow's recommendations. It will address them in an implementation plan in the autumn.

Pictured: Natalie Sides, a communication aid-user who has been involved in Scope and BT’s No Voice, No Choice campaign that helps people with communication impairments receive the equipment and support they need

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