Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (991, 992)

Robert Troy

Question:

991. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will not make further cuts to the school completion programme funding this year, 2014-2015; if he will restore funding to 2008 levels over an agreed timeframe; and if he will declare all DEIS initiatives exempts from cuts to funding. [22810/14]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

992. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount of funding that was given to qualifying schools for the DEIS school completion programme in each of the school years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014; the funding that will be provided in the 2014-2015 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22935/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 991 and 992 together.

The School Completion Programme (SCP) aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is a targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives operating across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools to provide targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people. The programme's project model approach gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving.

As with all major spending programmes, the School Completion Programme budget was subject to examination under the terms of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). This process identified a requirement for savings of 6.5% per annum across the programme over the period 2012 to 2014. Accordingly the funding available to the programme for the years in question is as follows:

Year

Annual Budget

2011

€30.256m

2012

€28.256m

2013

€26.456m

2014

€24.756m

Since its establishment the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. I am advised that proposals have yet to be formulated by the Agency in relation to the funding for SCP projects in the coming 2014/2015 academic year. As an initial step the Agency has invited all SCP Projects to commence planning for the next cycle of the programme within the available funding parameters. The Agency will continue to work closely with Local Management Committees, schools and local SCP co-ordinators to assist projects through this process.

The potential for any changes in the funding allocated to this programme in future years is a matter to be considered in the estimates and budgetary process having regard to the resources available to Government. The broader question of other initiatives under the DEIS school support programme is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, given that lead responsibility for DEIS policy resides with his Department.