Department of Health and Social Care
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New Help to Tackle Children’s Communication Problems

New Help to Tackle Children’s Communication Problems

News Release issued by the Government News Network on 08 July 2009

A £5million package of measures is being rolled out to help improve services for children and young people with communication problems. A new Communication Champion is also being recruited to raise the profile of these issues, Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls and Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced today.

This is part of a £12 million investment to implement the Government Action Plan, Better Communication.

Communication problems can lead to serious disadvantages in later life – from initial frustration at not being able to express oneself, to bullying, reduced educational achievement, fewer job prospects and even the descent into criminality.

The latest package of measures includes:

· The Government is now recruiting for a new Communication Champion to raise the profile of these issues, drive delivery of reforms, improve local performance and lead the National Year of Speech, Language and Communication (2011-2012).

· Sixteen pilot areas – backed by £2million investment - have been chosen to identify good practice in providing support for children with speech, language and communication needs through the joint working of organisations such as PCTs and Local Authorities. This will be used to develop a national framework to improve the way services are delivered for children across the country.

· The University of Warwick has been selected to lead a consortium delivering a three year, £1.5million research programme on the cost-effectiveness of interventions for children with speech, language and communication needs and to improve the evidence base.

· Twelve organisations working to support children with alternative and augmentative communication needs have been chosen to share grants totalling £500,000 this year as part of Becta’s commitment to provide £1.5 million of funding over the next three years. These grants aim to support delivery and provision of services

Speech, language and communication needs can exist on their own – such as specific vocal impairments or a stammer – or be related to another need – like autistic spectrum disorders, hearing impairments or physical disabilities.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said:

“Parents know that the ability to communicate is an essential life skill for their children, allowing them to fulfil their potential, enjoy their education and go on to become full participants of society. We are determined to remove the barriers some children face when trying to communicate by giving them the easily accessible support they need.

“John Bercow’s groundbreaking review identified that local services need to improve. We are now implementing his recommendations to make that happen. From children with a limited vocabulary to those with severe impairments, we’re now taking action to improve services across the spectrum.”

Care Services Minister, Phil Hope said:

“Being able to communicate effectively is essential to a child’s health and well-being as well as their education.

“The package we are announcing today demonstrates our commitment, across Government, to making better communication a reality for children everywhere.”

This is part of a £12 million investment to implement the Government Action Plan, Better Communication, launched in December. It builds on commitments made by Government in the action plan following the 2008 independent review by John Bercow MP. This latest action is another major step towards tackling the speech, language and communication problems that can hamper children’s development.

Schools Minister, Diana Johnson said:

“I am delighted that we are continuing to drive forward improvements to services, acting on the recommendations of John Bercow’s independent review last year and delivering on Better Communication – our communication action plan.”

Kamini Gadhok, CEO of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists said:

“Today’s announcement shows that Government is delivering on its promise to improve services for the tens of thousands of children with speech, language and communication needs. The Departments of Health and Children, Schools and Families are making a significant investment in the implementation of the Better Communication action plan published in December last year. The RCSLT and the speech and language therapy profession will enthusiastically support these developments.”

Anita Kerwin-Nye, Director of The Communication Trust, said:

“As the third sector representative on the Communication Council, The Communication Trust warmly welcomes today’s Better Communication Action Plan announcements. This is a campaigning triumph for the voluntary sector who have fought tirelessly for this step change in supporting children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

For media enquiries only please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 02072105221 or the Department for Children, Schools and Families newsdesk on 020792 6789The 16 local ‘Commissioning Pathfinders’ are: Trafford; Walsall; Warwickshire; Worcestershire; North Tyneside; Oxfordshire; Plymouth; Southampton; Hertfordshire; Hounslow; Lambeth; London Specialised Commissioning Group; North Lincolnshire; Devon; Hackney; HartlepoolDetails of Communication Champion Recruitment can be found here: and augmentative communication (AAC) describes extra ways to help people who find it hard to communicate by speech and writing and encompasses unaided methods, such as signing, and aided methods, from low tech picture charts to high tech electronic systems. The organisations receiving Becta AAC grants this year are Abilitynet, ACE Centre North, ACE Centre Advisory Trust, Brighton & Hove - AAC Outreach - Downs view school, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, CENMAC, Communication and Learning Enterprises Limited, Dame Hannah Rogers Trust, James Rennie School, Makaton Charity, Milton Keynes PCT and Treloar College. Further details can be found here: of SLCN Cost-Effectiveness Research Programme can be found on the University of Warwick’s website Bercow Review Of Services For Children And Young People (0-19) With Speech, Language And Communication Needs, is available at Government made its formal response to the Bercow Report with the Publication of Better Communication, the SLCN action plan, on 17 December 2008. The action plan is available at , the Written Ministerial Statement made at the time is available at 7m0001.htm#08121773000002 and the press notice published alongside the action plan is available at wsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=387816&SubjectId=36. 8. The purpose of The Communication Trust is to raise awareness of the importance of speech, language andcommunication across the children's workforce and to enable practitioners to access the best training and expertise to support the communication needs of all children, more details are available at http://www.thecommunicationtrust The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists is the professional body for speech and language therapists and support workers, more details are available at

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