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Meet the needs of children with special needs in preschool

June 26, 2014

Early Childhood Ireland calls for funding stream of €36 million to make this happen

“We know from recent statements that the Minister for Education & Science is keen to develop a more equitable and accessible system for special needs assistants (SNAs) in primary and secondary school, but he must understand that meeting the needs of children with special needs has got to start in preschool.  Therefore, we are urging Ministers Quinn and Flanagan to collaborate on a plan that would make access to special needs assistants (SNAs) more balanced and fair for young children across the country from preschool level.  Parents, carers, educators and the medical profession know that the early years are the most essential and effective for diagnosing and addressing the special needs of children.  Unfortunately, the investment in SNAs at preschool level is abysmal and needs urgent attention from both Ministers and their respective departments.  The projected cost to make this happen in 2015 is €36 million.”

This is according to Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland.

 The introduction of SNA’s for children attending preschool at a cost of €36 million from Dept of Education & Science budget is one of the recommendations in Early Childhood Ireland’s prebudget submission.  This, according to Early Childhood Ireland, would enable services employ SNA’s or access other specialists, for example, speech and language hours.

Linked to this, Early Childhood Ireland is also asking for increased and timely access to assessments so that children can fully benefit from Government investment in early childhood care and education.  It highlights the latest Pobal survey (2013) indicating that 45% of all services had at least one child with a diagnosed special need and almost 4,000 children with disabilities were reported in these services. According to Early Childhood Ireland’s CEO, Teresa Heeney, “These children are among the most vulnerable in our society and the absence of SNA’s impacts very significantly on their life experience. This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”



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