The life prospects of many of Devon’s most vulnerable children are looking up thanks to public services joining forces to deliver improved speech and language support.
Devon County Council (DCC) and the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group are working with parents, carers and public sector organisations, including schools, the police, health services and the probation service, to improve access to speech and language support.
Now DCC is calling on parents and professionals to get even more involved by working together to ensure that every child and young person is enabled to communicate to the very best of their ability.
Research shows that one of the reasons why children can find it difficult to find their way in life is because they struggle to communicate.
Tens of thousands of children and young people in Devon need some form of support, and many have not been recognised as needing help.
A child’s ability to understand speech and language at a young age is vital for their development.
If a child doesn’t develop the skills needed to interact with others, it can have a lasting and profound impact in adulthood.
It can affect their mental health, putting them at greater risk of a suffering anxiety or depression, their educational attainment, employability, social mobility and increase their vulnerability to suicide, gangs, drugs and exploitation.
Children with poor vocabulary aged five are one and a half times more likely to have mental health problems at age 34. They are also twice as likely to be unemployed at 34 years compared with children with good vocabulary.
Difficulties with communication may also influence the choices they make – estimates suggest that up to 99 per cent of Devon’s young offenders have some form of unmet speech, language and communication need.
Now DCC and the CCG are asking professionals who work in both the public and private sectors to learn more about children’s speech, language and communication needs, to support the identification of those most in need of support – to ensure every child has a fulfilling and rewarding life.
Additionally, DCC and the CCG are asking parents, carers and their families to learn more about the importance of speech and language development so they can help their children to communicate and know what to do if they have any concerns.
Councillor James McInness, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools said: ““Knowing how to identify if a child is struggling and needs help is really important and that’s where we can help.
“intervening could make the difference between an individual being happy or unhappy for the rest of their lives.
“With the right support a child’s ability to communicate more effectively can be improved.
“Our aim is to ensure that the right support is provided at the right time, in the right place by the right person – but to do that we need your help.”