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Autism funding to continue after 2021

The Welsh Government has announced the continuation of funding it currently provides to the Integrated Autism Service. The service is funded until March 2021 and this announcement makes clear that funding will continue to be provided thereafter.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, has also initiated a demand and capacity review to ensure that autism services are effective and sustainable. This is welcome news as it shows the Welsh Government is committed to continuing to develop and improve autism services over the long term.

The Welsh Government has also confirmed that it will continue its recurrent funding for Neurodevelopmental (ND) Services across Wales, which is also welcome given uncertainty over the future of the Together for Children and Young People programme. This programme provided strategic oversight of the development of ND teams across Wales, including support for services to meet their new 26-week waiting time target between referral and first assessment.

Code of Practice on the Delivery of Autism Services

Over the summer, our charity attended meetings with the Welsh Government and other stakeholders to discuss the development of the Code and what it should include. It’s our view that the Code has the potential to make a difference to the lives of autistic people if it includes clear duties on local authorities and health services, and if it fully takes into account the views and experiences of autistic people and their families in Wales.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, had previously said that he expected the Code would be in force by the end of 2019. However, the latest statement from the Welsh Government indicated that the Code will not go out for public consultation until early 2020.

Additional Learning Needs Act implementation delayed

The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, has announced that implementation of the new Additional Learning Needs system will now be introduced a year later than planned. The Welsh Government had planned for the new system to come into force in September 2020, with those currently with Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and those newly assessed transferring to Individual Development Plans first, and those on School Action and School Action+ transferring before the end of a proposed three-year transition period.

Instead, the system will now be implemented from September 2021. In the meantime, it is important to remember that the current SEN system remains in place. If you have any queries or concerns about the education your child is receiving and need further advice, contact our Education Rights Service.

Report on Autism and Neurodevelopmental services

The Welsh Government has published a report outlining the challenges to addressing long waiting times in diagnosis and support services. The report noted that demand for services is currently far higher than capacity to provide support, which has resulted in delays in receiving diagnostic assessment and a lack of post-diagnostic support. You can read the report in full here.

Read the report