The 38 Sure Start projects in Northern Ireland (NI) play a vital role in helping to improve attainment and outcomes for all our young children, from pre-birth to pre-school and particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds. Optimising the development of Speech Language Communication skills is key to the success of Sure Start.
Speech Language Communication (SLC) support features as a strategic component of the aims principles, core elements and policy outcomes of Sure Start. SLC support is an integral component of service provision across all 38 Sure Start Projects.
The Regional Programme has the overarching aim of ensuring the application of a regionally consistent programme of Speech, Language and Communication support across all Sure Start Projects with equitable access to appropriate levels of support for: all children (universal population); those at risk of Speech Language Communication Needs (SLCN) (targeted population) and those with significant SLCN (specialist population).
How are SS projects supported and how is the SLC programme delivered?
Speech and Language Therapy services are provided by Trusts through a Service Level Agreement (SLA). There is a Speech and Language Therapist based in each Sure Start Project and a Lead Speech and Language Therapist for every CCP Area/HSC Trust who manages the delivery of the local SLC programmes. At a strategic level the model is led by the Regional SS SLC Coordinator based at the PHA.
SLC support is based on proximal and capacity building models of care. Collaborative decision making between SS staff, parents, SLTs, HSC and education partners are at the heart of the Regional SS SLC programme.
Three tiers of support is provided: universal, targeted and specialist.