A Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA has raised the issue of funding for services for children with disabilities at the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

DUP MLA Deborah Erskine raised the issue of the loss of the "vital" Brighter Futures project, which supported children with disabilities in Fermanagh.

Funding for the Brighter Futures project came to an end on March 31. The project was managed by the charity, Positive Futures. 

Mrs. Erskine told the Assembly that upwards of 30 families who used the service in Fermanagh are at "breaking point". 

Providing some background on the service, Mrs. Erskine said: "Brighter Futures was originally a five-year project funded by the National Lottery and some Western Health and Social Care Trust funding.

"The programme finished the five-year cycle in 2022. However, fortunately, further money was found by Positive Futures to keep it running for a further two years.

"That funding stream, like many others in the community and voluntary sector, has dried up."

Discussing the impact on families now that funding has dried up, she said: " It leaves them at breaking point, unable to access in any way the same support through our broken NHS system.

"Scores of families who have children with autism, ASD and ADHD again have no social worker in place to give them support, going forward.

"It raises the question of how we are in this situation in 2024, because we should support the most vulnerable in society."

Mrs. Erskine described the project as  "cost-effective" and "able to provide better outcomes" for the children using it.

She referenced a report from Professor Roy McConkey, Ulster University, which evidenced the positive impact of the service but recommended that it should be rolled out across Northern Ireland.

Continuing, Mrs. Erskine said: "We talk of invest-to-save when it comes to our health service. Here is a prime example of that, but, without the willingness in Departments to realise this, such services are lost.

"Today [Monday, April 8], we are at the end of World Autism Acceptance Week, and it saddens me that we have failed those people. We need to take a reality check."

In her speech, Mrs. Erskine referenced a report from The Impartial Reporter where one parent told this newspaper that "nothing was impossible because Brighter Futures always looked for the possible in everything".