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Staffing supports & funding needed for children with additional needs

August 28, 2014

Teresa Heeney reiterates Early Childhood Ireland’s pre-budget call for specific staffing supports in preschool for children with additional needs and a funding stream of €36 million to make this happen.

Adding Early Childhood Ireland’s voice to this debate sparked by investigations by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman following a complaint from the mother of a four old girl who is profoundly deaf, Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland said:

“We agree with Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan that supports for children with additional needs in the free preschool year vary widely because of a lack of clear Government policy and investment. Thousands of children, who have not been assessed, will be walking into preschool services next Monday. These services are expected to cope and will do their best. But without the requisite supports and attention, these children will simply not be able to achieve their potential.

“This is a big issue for our members in preschools and crèches nationwide and meanwhile children with additional needs are missing out and that’s not right.  What’s required is a funding strand to be incorporated into the current schemes, to provide specific staffing supports, which would enable services to directly employ SNA’s or access other specialists like speech and language hours.

“Through our pre-budget submission we are calling for the introduction of SNA’s for children attending early childhood education services at a cost of €36 million from the Department of Education & Science budget.   Linked to this, we are also asking for increased and timely access to assessments, so that children with additional needs can fully benefit from Government investment in early childhood care and education.  We know from the latest Pobal survey (2013) that 45% of all services had at least one child with a diagnosed special needs and almost 4,000 children with disabilities were reported in these services.

“We have sought meetings with both Minister O’Sullivan and Minister Reilly and this issue will be top of our agenda and it needs to be top of theirs so that the rights of these Irish children are vindicated.”

Ends.

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