Today our CEO, Cherie Tyner and Ciara Ni Raghallaigh, Special Needs Programme Co-Ordinator had the honour of presenting to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Disability Matters.
Cherie and Ciara were supported by Wayne McSweeney, parent and Niamh Kerrigan, parent and Programme Co-Facilitator as all four spoke to the committee about the benefits and impact of our Suite of Professional Programmes in supporting parents and families across the community, education, health and disability sectors and this allowed us to speak to the committee about our first in the world Special Needs Programme and the inequitable access to evidence-based parenting interventions for families raising a child with a disability.
There are over 22,000 children under 18 living with an intellectual disability in Ireland. For a number of years disability services contacted our charity to develop an evidence based parenting programme for these families, communicating that although they receive tailored support during the early years, as the child approaches adolescence, services did not have a proven parenting programme to draw on for this cohort when challenges and psychological distress are at their highest.
Families can experience unique and increased challenging behaviour, communication and sexual problems, stigma and isolation from their communities, as well as difficulties promoting independence of the young person.
Parents Plus responded to this need developing by The Parents Plus Special Needs Programme (PPSN). PPSN has undergone a Randomised Controlled Trial with the Psychology Dept, Trinity College Dublin, with impressive results; was developed in partnership with families and disability services; and is designed to be delivered by established disability services to parents, in their local communities, to empower them to change the outcomes not just of their child with an intellectual disability, but all of their family so they can realise their full potential, belong to, and contribute to an inclusive society. – a key commitment of CDNTs and UNCRPD.
The Joint Committee on Disability Matters were meeting this morning for consideration of Family Centred Practice and Parent Training Interventions. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Michael Moynihan said: “We welcome the opportunity to discuss Family Centred Practice and Parent Training Interventions and how it aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” “The UNCRPD requires service providers to provide a social model of support that facilitates disabled people to achieve maximum independence.
“With that in mind, programmes focussed on family centered practice recognise that families know what is best for their children while professionals bring knowledge, skills and experience in disability. “This model has the potential to align with the UNCPRD and international best practice and we look forward to discussing how Family Centered Practices can better support families and children with disabilities.”
You can visit our Twitter page below to watch back the committee meeting.
If you would like to learn more about our unique and important Special Needs Programme we invite you to join us on Zoom Monday 20th February 2023 at 11 am and to find out why other parents recommend it for their families.
At the Information Session, you’ll have the opportunity to meet parents who have already completed the programme and hear first-hand why they believe it will benefit you and your child. You’ll also meet Ciara Ni Raghallaigh.
Ciara is a Senior Speech and Language Therapist in the HSE, with over twenty years experience in the area of intellectual disability. Ciara first trained in the Parents Plus programmes so she could run the evidence-based groups to support families on their journey from the early years right through to adolescence. Having extensive first hand experience of the success of the programmes, Ciara now works with Parents Plus providing training to professionals in the Parents Plus Special Needs Programme (PPSN). She also supervises facilitators who are delivering PPSN with families across a wide range of services both in Ireland and the UK.
Our presentation to the Joint Committee on Disability Matters is just one example of Parents Plus’s advocacy work. We are committed to advocating for families with children with additional needs and to ensuring that they have access to the services and supports they need.