Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
The Welsh Government’s ambition is for all children to have the best start in life and to reach their full potential.
To support this, I published the Talk With Me: Speech, Language and Communication Delivery Plan in November 2020.
A key objective in the Delivery Plan is to improve the identification of speech, language and communication needs in children 0 to 4 years, 11 months.
By identifying children who are at risk of language difficulties early in life, it makes it possible for them to get the help they need, preventing any potential long-term effects.
I have committed up to £1.5m over three years to develop a SLC identification tool for use with young children. The development plan for the tool has been informed by research involving Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Bristol University.
The new identification tool will be bespoke, and available in a bilingual format for use by early years professionals throughout Wales. This will include assessment of communication milestones, risk factors and environmental factors to be carried out at multiple age points, in line with the Healthy Child Wales Programme.
The new tool will allow children most in need to be identified early and offered intervention by the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
In addition, I am investing up to £1.15m over two years (2022-24) in SLC uplift funding for Health Boards and SLC Specialist Centres. This will help to strengthen SLC services and reduce waiting lists.
This latest award follows earlier financial uplifts which have enabled SLC services to address some of the adverse impacts the pandemic has had on children’s early language development.
Previous uplifts have paid for IT kit for staff, training, and additional resources which have made a real difference to delivering services on the ground.
This statement is being issued during recess to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.