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The Progression of Early Intervention Disability Services in Ireland

Carroll, Clare MSc; Murphy, Geraldine MSc; Sixsmith, Jane PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3182736ce6
Original Study

The Republic of Ireland is an island situated in north-west Europe inhabited by 4.6 million people, with 2.8% between 0 and 4 years of age with a disability (Central Statistics Office, 2012). The Irish Government funds the Irish health services, which, in turn, directly and indirectly funds disability services. Education and Disability legislation have developed in parallel, with an apparent increasing congruence with both moving toward a rights-based approach. Today, early intervention disability services are delivered by both statutory and nongovernmental agencies with wide variation and no national consistency in service provision. Some components of the Developmental Systems Approach can be discerned in Irish service provision, and these include screening, access, comprehensive interdisciplinary assessment, and early childhood programs. However, assessment of families, development and implementation, monitoring and outcome evaluation, and transition planning are not as identifiable. Guided by legislation and organizational restructuring, early intervention provision in Ireland is in a state of flux with an emphasis on developing national uniformity of family-centered early intervention services.

National University of Ireland, Galway (Ms Carroll and Dr Sixsmith); and Health Service Executive, Dublin Mid-Leinster (Ms Murphy), Ireland.

Correspondence: Clare Carroll, MSc, Discipline of Speech and Language Therapy, School of Health Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland (

The authors acknowledge the contributions of Libby Kinneen and Caroline Cantan from the Health Service Executive with the early drafts of the manuscript.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2013Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.