Pre-school services deemed unsatisfactory for children with special needs

Pre-school services deemed unsatisfactory for children with special needs

The Department of Children and Youth affairs has released a statement in which it describes that the current free pre-school year accessible to children with special needs is ‘not satisfactory’.

The Department have also admitted that the service is ‘inconsistent’ in its services to children with disabilities, due to a lack of special needs assistants available for those who partake in the pre-school year.

Currently, 65,000 children are eligible for the scheme, but the lack of special needs assistants provided for the children throughout the year is resulting in an inablitity for them to fully avail of the programme’s services.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has acknowleged that the problem exists, and in a released statement have said: “It recognises that the co-ordination and provision of appropriate supports for pre-school children with special needs is not satisfactory. Some cannot access pre-school services, and some, while attending a pre-school, are not achieving their potential due to lack of appropriate supports.”

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Chief Executive of Early Childhood Ireland, Teresa Heeney, has said that although the problem has now been recognised by the Department, immediacy is needed when it comes to acting on the problem and solutions found:

“A solution cannot wait until a medical model is available where there are enough speech therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, etc, in place to ensure that all assessments are completed before a child enters a free pre-school year.”

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