Following the Government’s announcement of additional funding for child development services (CDS), the South Island has agreed on a regional plan to improve access to specialist services.
As part of a regionally coordinated nationwide initiative, the Ministry of Health allocated over $2M to 10 South Island CDS organisations over the next four years, setting them a target to provide services for an additional 435 children on waiting lists.
To enable equitable distribution of the funding, a comprehensive implementation plan was developed by the South Island Child Development Services Working Group. Supported by the South Island Alliance’s Child Health SLA, the group includes representatives from the five South Island DHBs and five South Island NGO child development service providers: The Champion Centre, CCS Disability Action, Conduction Education Canterbury, Central Otago Health Services and Conductive Education Southland.
The plan outlines how additional FTE would be utilised across the South Island to make the most of the extra funding and address key pressure points in the services. Given the large disparity of CDS models of care, funding was not allocated based on a population proportion, says Chair of the South Island Child Development Services Working Group Jacqui Lunday Johnstone. “We agreed on a spread of FTE across the South Island CDS providers, taking into account their current service demands and waiting lists, as well as a realistic recruitment plan.”
In addition to capacity building (FTE funding) the South Island region was successful in receiving funding for two project proposals – supporting young adults with disabilities to work in CDS and delivering telehealth to rurally isolated families while also providing IT support for CDS staff.Jacqui says the plan focuses on improving cultural responsiveness and building more consistent, integrated and accessible CDS for children across the South Island, particularly Māori families. “Research shows how beneficial early intervention is. Waiting makes it even more stressful for families with children on long waiting lists to see a specialist practitioner. The additional funding is fantastic and will go a long way in helping these children and their families.”
CDS provides community-based early intervention services for children with physical, sensory, intellectual disability, autism, neuro-disabilities, by facilitating their developmental pathway to maximise their potential and support greater independence.