Parents of children with learning disabilities or difficulties and have been waiting for years to have the necessary support for them in schools are being told to get the assessment done at private professionals for €200 as there is a long waiting list at the Child Development Assessment Unit (CDAU). This unit by the Ministry of Health was set up to assess the needs of services required by children with disabilities and difficulties in schools.
A mother of a child who is in Year 4 at a primary school told maltastar.com that the head of the school has just told her that it does not make sense for the child to sit for the annual exam as he does not know how to read and write. When the mother said that she has been asking since Year 1 for support, she was told to re-apply again but then was also told that if she does not want to wait longer she should get a private professional and pay €200 to have the child assessed to stand a better chance of getting the required support. “I cannot afford to pay €200. Why should my child suffer and fall behind because I do not have the money that they want to charge me?”
Sources at the Directorate for Education Services told maltastar.com that the present system is inefficient and causing hardships for parents and students. Another source told maltastar.com: “Parents are being abused, they are hurt, misled, overcharged and they are feeling threatened. Centralised assessments at ACTU result in waiting lists to the detriment of students with disability. This situation is causing personnel ending up at loggerheads with each other causing inefficiencies in service provision. Parents are approaching a ‘professional’ from ACTU, asking for their child to be skipped the waiting list. This professional takes clients temporarily off the list for her own private practice.”
In his blog of 3 April 2012 Dr Andrew Azzopardi referred to the racket run by a few professionals who charge high fees to hard-pressed parents to have their children assessed privately because of the waiting list for therapy and assessments at CDAU.