DEPUTY Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan has announced an additional £250,000 to support children’s speech, language and communication needs.

The funding will be available for health boards and specialist centres to continue to address speech, language and communication needs, and will enable SLC therapists and practitioners to respond to local demands and needs.

The additional funding for 2021-22 follows COVID recovery funding provided in 2020 to address speech, language and communication needs during the pandemic.

The focus for the funding will be on early years (0 - 4 years 11 months) and will include:

• Funding for digital and physical resources and for IT for a range of uses including remote sessions

• Training and development for SLC practitioners and childcare workers to identify speech, language and communication needs early on

• Funding for It Takes Two to Talk parent workbooks for all main libraries in Wales

Julie Morgan said: “I’m delighted to announce this additional funding for speech, language and communication needs.

“We are committed to ensuring that children from all backgrounds have the best start in life and are able to reach their full potential, and we know that the early years are an important time in a child’s development.

“It is at this time that children develop speech, language, communication and oracy skills which underpin their ability to read, write and problem solve.

“The pandemic has had an impact on services and we are continuing to work with the NHS and specialist centres to help them meet children’s needs at this critical time.

“We want all children in Wales to have access to high quality speech, language and communication support in the early years if needed, and this additional funding will go towards ensuring SLC practitioners are able to respond to need in their areas.”

Gareth Evans, Clinical Director for Therapy Services at BCUHB, added: “It’s very pleasing that the Welsh Government recognises the significance of early language development as part of its ‘Talk With Me’ delivery plan.

“This additional funding will enable provision of extra time in Speech and Language Therapy to provide interventions and support to children under the age of five who have additional speech, language and communication needs, as well as training for parents.

“This will enhance local services to enable us to provide effective care, advice and support at a crucial moment in a child’s age and stage of language development.”