THE founder of a group supporting parents of children with disabilities in their fight for adequate services said they gained a ‘lot more allies’ during their protest at Grand Parade last Saturday afternoon.
Families Unite for Services and Support (FUSS) held protests in Cork, Dublin and Wexford on Saturday, as they called for urgent action to address concerns around children’s disability services in Ireland.
Speaking to The Echo, founder of FUSS Rachel Martin said: “We got a fantastic turnout in Cork, Dublin and Wexford. We were very happy with it. I think we got a lot more allies than we had previously. There was a lot more than just families out. There was a lot more speech and language and OTs standing on the line,” she said.
Ms Martin said the group will continue to fight for immediate outsourcing of assessments to tackle assessment of need waitlists; for the issue of access to personalised budgets for respite care to be addressed; a timeframe for the return of all therapists to special schools; and a commitment to end the practice of families requiring personal loans for vital equipment that they are entitled to under GMS.
The group is also calling for an actionable and fully costed Workforce Planning Strategy to tackle difficulties across the sector in recruitment and retention of staff, a timeline for the implementation of Parent Forums promised under the 2011 plan for progressing disability services, and an update on the UNCRPD Optional Protocol and its ratification in Ireland.
The group founder said they will be ‘escalating’ their protest most likely in September. “We will be escalating our protest most likely in September when the Dáil is back sitting. We are seeing movement on assessment and needs. We are not seeing any significant steps when it comes to recruitment and retention of staff in the disability sector.”
Ms Martin said more is required from the current government parties. “Parents are exhausted. They are caring for their children, and it is a difficult fight for them. We need much more from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party to change things.”