Additional allocation of €5 million for 2007 could have provided NEPS service to all schoolsFine Gael Education and Science Spokesperson Olwyn Enright TD has today (Wednesday) described the revelation that a charity has been forced to fund more than 1,000 psychological assessments for children in need as a new low for this Government.
‘Today’s report that the St Vincent de Paul charity has funded psychological assessments for more than 1,000 children and young people is the latest indication of the flawed commitment of this Government to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), and a new low for Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.
‘One of the key duties of Minister Mary Hanafin is to ensure that children with specific educational needs or difficulties, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, are able to reach their potential within the education system. This is a duty that she has shirked since assuming office, and the consequences for children will be serious and long-felt.
‘When NEPS was established in 1999, a target of 184 psychologists working within the service was set. This target was supposed to have been met by 2004, when all schools were supposed to have access to NEPS. However, the Government is still short of this target by more than 50 posts. In actual fact, figures released to me in late 2006 showed that the number of primary schools covered by the service is actually in decline.
‘Between February 2005 and December 2006 the number of primary schools without access to NEPS has risen by 160. These schools have dropped off the NEPS radar due to the failure of this Government to live up to a promise made eight years ago. Today, 51% of primary schools in the State are not covered by NEPS.
‘An additional allocation of €5 million for 2007, on top of the amount set aside in the estimates last November, would have allowed for all schools to be covered by the NEPS service. The revelation that charitable organisations are now picking up the slack for this Government by commissioning and paying for private psychological assessments shows that this additional allocation should have been made.
‘This funding is needed now, as access to the psychological services provided by NEPS is vital for children and young people with special educational needs. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats should be ashamed to rely on charities to provide services to those who need them, and who are entitled to assistance from the State.’
This is typical of the FF/PD government, setting up programs with great fan fare and then underfunding them! When will they cop on. These are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, and they deserve all the hlep they can get. Thankfully in Ireland we have great charities live the SdVP who step in to fill the gap left by the government.
Come no Hanafin show your potential, and people say she will be the next leader of FF.