More investment in children's speech and language service

An extra £510,000 is being invested in speech and language therapy services in Norfolk each year, to help boost children’s communication skills.

Norfolk County Council and Norfolk’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups have agreed the extra funding, to help cope with increased demand on the service and ensure more children can get the help they need.

The extra investment is likely to be used to increase staffing, provide more support for families with of pre-school children with complex needs and to develop an improved service to schools.

Councillor Judy Oliver, Vice Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “Speech and language skills are so important to children’s education and development, which is why we as a council are increasing our funding in this crucial area.

“At the same time, we are investing £120m in specialist school places for children and doubling the size of our specialist teams that carry our assessments for education, health and care plans. We are committed to getting the right support for children with special educational needs as early as possible.”

East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) will continue to provide speech and language therapy services in Norfolk, with the value of their contract increasing from £1.7m to £2.2m. The current contract runs until June 2021.

The extra investment follows a review of the service last year, looking at the needs of the county’s children and young people, the workforce and how the service is funded and delivered.

Led by Better Communication CIC, the review found that there wasn’t sufficient funding to cover the demand on services. It also said a more joined up approach was needed and that more staff were needed to carry out assessment, and plan and deliver specialist interventions.

The extra investment means that from April, Norfolk County Council will invest £1.2m in the service and the CCGs will invest £980,000.