Children facing serious learning difficulties could be picked up earlier thanks to a $30,000 funding boost from Rotorua Trust.

The trust has approved the grant to help support the Empowered Learning Trust – an organisation set up to help young people with learning and processing difficulties such as Irlen Syndrome and Dyslexia.

The Empowered Learning Trust has observed that around 15 per cent of youngsters are identified as struggling by teachers and need additional support.

Empowered Learning Trust screening project manager Karen Barker said learning difficulties that were left untreated could lead to setbacks, poor self-esteem and behavioral issues.

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She said the funding would play a vital role in making sure any issues were picked up early.

Trained screeners visit schools and screen all Year 4 students for visual and auditory processing issues. Those with issues are then referred to appropriate professionals for targeted support, corrective lenses or to apply special assessment conditions – at no cost to the family.

Barker said being able to identify the cause and offer solutions remained much more cost-effective than trying to offer learning or social support later in life.

So far the organisation had helped more than 800 students.

The cost of corrective lenses and specialist appointments would be inaccessible for most parents without the support of the Empowered Learning Trust, said Barker.

The Empowered Learning Trust is entirely self-funded and relied on donations and grants from funders and partners.

Kaharoa School assistant principal Rose Powley spoke highly of the programme, saying the trust had filled a gap that benefitted many families in the community.