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Why little Lily (5) will suffer from HSE cuts

THIS little girl is just one of hundreds whose special needs requirements are in jeopardy as an estimated 58 HSE temporary workers' contracts are cut.

Parents and staff at the centres provided by St Catherine's Association in Wicklow were left reeling after the five schools and care centres revealed that the contracts of key workers would be cut.

The staff in question, who were working for less than one year, were given four weeks' notice of termination of their contracts on Tuesday night.

Little Lily Norman (5), from Kilcoole, Wicklow, is a pupil at the EDC pre-school. She has autism and has been attending this pre-school since she was one.



Lily's progress has advanced enormously with the assistance of specialists who are trained in applied behavioural analysis (ABA) for autism. These specialists are provided by St Catherine's Association – but their contracts expire next month.

Lily's mum Linda Norman said parents at the school were very upset to learn that their children will have the care that they are used to withdrawn.

"My daughter Lily has epilepsy. I'm gutted that her key worker is gone," she told the Herald.

"She spent so much time with this girl. I don't know how it is going to impact her getting to school and being in school.

"I don't know how that is going to affect Lily's learning.

"It is such a precious time for her, she is coming to the end of the school year.

"My child is special needs, and yet again, I don't know how they are going to implement this model of ABA tuition if they don't have one- to-one care."

St Catherine's Association runs five educational centres and additional respite and residential centres across the Wicklow region.

The non-profit facility is partly funded by the HSE.

It has been in Wicklow for over 30 years and provides services for approximately 250 clients. It is understood the job losses will be in the area of therapy and assistance for those with disabilities – such as speech and language therapy and key ABA tutors.

The job cuts are not related to any cut in funding from the HSE, but sources said that there are issues of "corporate governance" at the organisation in terms of management of funds.

In a statement, St Catherine's said: "It is a difficult but necessary decision to ensure that we can continue to deliver services."