18 Jan 2012

The final report of the Communication Champion for children, Jean Gross CBE, was published on Monday 16 January.

The reflections in Two Years On: final report of the Communication Champion for children are based on findings from an extensive programme of meetings with local commissioners and service providers across England, undertaken between January 2010 and December 2011. Jean Gross has met with 105 out of the 152 local authority / NHS Primary Care Trust pairings in England.

Jean Gross made 30 recommendations to Government, local authorities, the voluntary sector and schools on the future of speech, language and communication services for children.

Liz Lovell, Policy Adviser at The Children’s Society said:

“The Children’s Society supports the recommendations made in the final report of the Communication Champion and calls on the Government to implement the recommendations in full.

“While Jean Gross highlights positive practice, it is clear from her report that there is still a postcode lottery in accessing vital services for those who struggle to communicate. The warning in her report about the impact of cuts on services is very concerning.

“The drive to make savings in the NHS and reductions in local authority budgets are coinciding with a 58% growth over the last five years in numbers of school-age children with speech, language and communication as their primary special need.

“Where services are available, they are rarely comprehensive – joint commissioning, for example, is not happening in 70% of local areas.  This must change as a matter of urgency – it is vital that all children with speech, language and communication needs are treated equally and have full access to the services they require.”

The Children’s Society is a member of The Communication Trust, a consortium of nearly 50 voluntary groups specialising in speech, language and communication.

The Children’s Society supports children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) through its network of projects, including children’s centres, specialist provision aimed at supporting language development for pre-school children with identified needs, support for communication aid users, and facilitating the participation of disabled children, including those with SLCN.