Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (177)

Pádraig MacLochlainn


177. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when a number of education welfare officers will be appointed to assist schools in County Donegal. [42541/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Within the statutory remit of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB), the Education Welfare Service (EWS) has specific responsibility for the Board’s general function to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The EWS has a current staffing complement of 74 officers delivering front line services, 2 of whom have distinct duties in relation to the education of children in places other than recognised schools.

Within that frontline cohort, there are currently two Education Welfare Officers in Donegal; one serving north Donegal and one serving south Donegal.

In addition, the NEWB is in the process of refining and implementing a new strategic approach to service delivery through the integrated working of its three service strands, namely; the Education Welfare Service (EWS); Home School Community Liaison Programme (HSCL – 402 school-based co-ordinators); and School Completion Programme (SCP – €26.456m in funding provided to support 124 school cluster projects and related initiatives). This integrated model of service will provide an enhanced response to the needs of children, families and schools. As part of this process the NEWB is also reviewing the basis on which the EWS was originally configured and a full consultation process is underway with EWS staff and their representatives to reconfigure and optimise service delivery to ensure an appropriate correlation between EWO resources, student population and their needs. I see this strategic national approach as a crucial reform in our efforts to tackle school absenteeism.

Vacancies that arise in staffing front line services for children and young people at risk of early school leaving, are prioritised by my Department in so far as possible, working within Government policy on public service numbers and the moratorium on recruitment.