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Children's speech and language service

8th October 2008

Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive of the children's communication charity I CAN and a member of the Bercow advisory group, discusses children’s speech and language services.

lonelyboy1Q

Within the NHS, children’s speech and language has always had a low profile but the publication of the Bercow review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs appears to have started to change that.

With schools secretary Ed Balls and health secretary Alan Johnson publicly committing to acting on all 40 of the review's recommendations with a £52m funding package, that reflects the recognition that good communication skills are essential for learning, literacy, social and emotional well-being, and mental health.

Half of children in some areas start school with speech, language and communication needs but with the right support, they may catch up.

Some needs are more complex and may be a result of other conditions such as autism, hearing impairment or general learning difficulties.

Unaddressed, speech and language problems impact on a child’s whole life but they are "the most common form of developmental delay" in children.

The NHS must get its response right. It has to integrate its provision with local authority children's services in exactly the way envisioned in Every Child Matters.

This means the dissemination of good quality information and effective joint working between education and health authorities and developing a world class commissioning framework.

Let's hope the government, PCTs and local authority children's services can "look beyond their traditional entrenched disputes and pull off a new approach that will deliver for children and families."

 

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