The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, provides for the establishment of the National Educational Welfare Board as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance issues. The board is now fully established as an independent body and is comprised of people representing school management, teachers, parents, the school attendance service, the voluntary sector and a number of Departments with an involvement in child welfare issues.
The board has responsibility for the development of a welfare-based service, accessible to parents and schools throughout the country. The new service is intended to take the focus away from the former prosecutorial approach to a welfare based approach, aimed at assisting children at risk and, in co-operation with schools, parents and other relevant bodies, to provide a range of supports and strategies to discourage absenteeism and early school leaving.
An interim chief executive officer was appointed by the board in mid August. The board is moving ahead with the recruitment of its senior management and head office staff at this time. In addition, the former school attendance officers, and senior related grades, have transferred from the relevant local authorities to the board, in accordance with the provisions of the Act.