For Oral Answer on : 04/07/2023
Question Number(s): 85 Question Reference(s): 32399/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 30 May 2023, to outline the progress made, if any, by his Department in putting in place support measures for vulnerable young adults with intellectual disabilities to attend training centres and workshops post-second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I refer the Deputy to the most recent reply which I gave on 30 May 2023 in response to previous questions by the Deputy. There is no change in the position outlined in that reply regarding the provision of transport for young adults with intellectual disabilities to attend training centres and workshops in a post-second level setting.
The HSE provides specialist disability services, including Day Services and Rehabilitative Training, to people with disabilities who require such services, and people with intellectual disabilities would form the majority of service users who are supported by these services. While day service funding does not include transport, some transport supports are provided by the HSE or funded agencies on a discretionary basis, and a variety of transport solutions are pursued in different CHO areas. These include travel training to enable public transport to be used, where appropriate, local transport such as Local Link, private bus transport and taxis, and some service providers provide transport where capacity exists.
In general, day service users are in receipt of disability allowance and are automatically entitled to the Free Travel Pass. The HSE have been working with the National Transport Authority on this issue of transport to day services, through the ‘Open Routes’ project. Open Routes is based on the idea that transport to HSE services such as day services would be best served by accessible local public transport such as the Local Link, transporting people to their day services, but also serving the wider local community as well with enhanced public transport provision.
The approach is being piloted in Leitrim. The NTA advise that the Integrated Pilot Project was developed in close collaboration with the HSE, with a revised network that is designed to meet the needs of mainstream public transport users as well as the transport needs of passengers with disabilities and those accessing health care services in the county. To date all feedback with regard to the pilot from stakeholders such as HSE, HSE Day Centres, external stakeholders and passengers has been very positive. In addition to the positive feedback, passenger numbers on Regular Rural Services has grown considerably since the introduction of the revised TFI Local Link network for County Leitrim.
This is a model that could be applied in other parts of the country, with the NTA leading on this and working closely with local partners such as the HSE. My Department will be meeting shortly with officials from the Department of Transport to evaluate next steps for this project.
At a national level, under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) which concluded in December 2022, the Department of Transport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of accessible public transport. To develop proposals for better coordination of transport and mobility supports for people with disabilities, a Transport Working Group was established under Action 104 of the NDIS,and I chaired this Group from January 2022 until its conclusion in December 2022.
The final report of the Group was published in February 2023 and it provides a valuable evidence base for future policy development, including the successor strategy to the National Disability Inclusion Strategy. It is incumbent on all departments and agencies responsibility for the delivery of transport and mobility supports to people with disabilities on a mainstream first basis to consider the recommendations in the report, as I continue to do in the context of the responsibilities of my Department.
In relation to the individual case the Deputy raised previously, my office has provided a response to the Deputy.