$39 million for major expansion of Child Development Service

  • $39 million boost to Child Development Service (CDS) amid unprecedent demand
  • Will allow for rapid expansion of services and significantly increase workforce
  • Part of Cook Government’s ongoing commitment to improving CDS for WA kids

The Child Development Service (CDS) will be significantly expanded, with the Cook Government today announcing $39 million to substantially increase staff and overhaul the vital service.

The Cook Government will invest $39 million in both the Child and Adolescent Health Service metropolitan service (CAHS-CDS) and WA Country Health Service regional service (WACHS-CDS), as part of the 2024-25 State Budget.

The funding will facilitate a significant increase in clinical staff, including paediatricians, clinical nurse specialists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and audiologists, in both the metro and regional areas.

The $39 million boost also includes infrastructure funding to lease additional temporary accommodation to allow staff to see more families.

The CDS is the only public child development service in Australia where both assessment and intervention services are provided by a multidisciplinary team of paediatricians and allied health clinicians under the one service umbrella.

The Service has experienced an unprecedented surge in demand at a time when there is a worldwide shortage of paediatricians. In the past 10 years referrals to CDS paediatricians have risen by 132 per cent.

The substantial funding boost complements other measures already being undertaken by the Cook Government to support the CDS, including:

  • piloting a joint nurse/paediatrician medication review process;
  • piloting combined planning and assessment appointments for suitable patient cohorts;
  • changing the Schedule 8 Prescribing Code to allow approved specialists from interstate to prescribe certain medicines to Western Australian patients via telehealth, removing a barrier for patients;
  • operating on Saturdays at some sites;
  • transitioning to an electronic referrals process;
  • embarking on a refreshed recruitment drive;
  • investigating ways to provide better linkages between the CDS and General Practice; and
  • empowering clinical nurse specialists to work to their full scope of practise to speed up initial access to care for children with suspected ADHD.

As stated by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

“There is no other service in the country that does what the CDS does. Our service looks after kids across 2.5 million square kilometres from Kununurra to Albany and the staff working in this service do a great job.

“Demand growth for CDS has been far exceeding what you would expect for our population, with referrals growing at an unprecedented rate.

“This $39 million investment will pave the way for a major uplift in CDS staff, especially in clinical roles, and ensures this vital service meets the needs of WA kids and families.”

/Public Release. View in full here.