Minister needs to address the July provision for children with disabilities – Funchion
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Kathleen Funchion TD called on Minister for Education Richard Bruton to address the issue of July provision for children with disabilities.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Funchion said:
“The July provision at schools provides children with disabilities with much needed activities including sensory, communication, clinical therapies, and outings during the summer holidays from school.
“At the moment, parents are dependent on the goodwill of teachers and the school to be willing to provide this vital service which provides structured stimulation and therapy in order to ensure the ongoing development of children with disabilities.
“Following the withdrawal of funding by the DES in 2010 for this service, parents funded the programme themselves with a reduced capacity as it was of such importance to them and their children.
“Upon the reintroduction of funding by the DES in 2013, it was announced that it would only be for children with a severe / profound intellectual disability or a diagnosis of Autism.
“How can the Minister justify the exclusion of children who have severe and complex physical needs but no intellectual disability from this provision? These children have equal need of this provision as often their physical needs affects their ability to access education.
“Children with a severe / profound disability cannot access a summer camp in the community due to the nature of their disability and this means that these children face eight weeks of isolation in the absence of universal July provision as they do not have the opportunity to socialise with their peers outside of school.
“The July provision also provided a much needed 4 hours of respite for parents during which they could complete other daily tasks and practicalities that go alongside caring for a child with complex needs.
“This is not how we should be providing education and care for some of the most vulnerable children in our society and the whole provision requires a review of the eligibility criteria, adequate resourcing, and a child and family first approach.”