Written Answers. - Departmental Links.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

94 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to improve links between his Department and the Departments of Health and Children on areas of common concern. [21690/02]

In the areas of education and care, effective co-ordination with all relevant Departments and stakeholders is a key requirement for successful policy outcomes. My Department maintains regular contact with the Department of Health and Children on a range of issues in this regard. For instance, ongoing consultations are taking place with the Department of Health and Children in relation to an OECD review on early childhood education and care which is being co-ordinated by my Department. My Department is also participating in a Department of Health and Children review of the existing pre-school services regulations under the Child Care Act, 1991. My Department also regularly engages in exchanges with the Department of Health and Children concerning a range of issues of mutual interest including the provision of education and care services for children and adults with special needs. The two Departments are examining how improved co-operation and co-ordination can be achieved in such provision.

Part of the remit of the national educational psychological service is to work in close collaboration with health boards. For this reason NEPS is organised in ten regions corresponding to the ten health board regions.

During 2001 the management committee of NEPS established a working party consisting of representatives of NEPS and the health boards. Its purpose was to recommend structures and protocols for effective liaison between NEPS and the psychology services of the health boards. This working party produced a report during the summer entitled Achieving through Partnership. The report includes a detailed action plan for the establishment of liaison mechanisms at national, regional and local level, recommendations on suitable areas for interagency collaboration and an action plan in the area of human resources.

The report has been presented to the management committee of NEPS which has adopted the recommendations. It will shortly be presented to the chief executive officers of the health boards. Once this has taken place the report will be made available to the public. It is intended to begin implementing the report's recommendations in the very near future.