Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (566)

Joan Burton


566. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the need for expanded supports in the school completion programme at schools (details supplied); if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that a number of these schools have been affected by crime and gang violence making the broad supports that the programme provides to the schools even more important; the level of funding she plans to provide through the programme in the academic year 2019-2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24946/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I am very conscious that the School Completion Programme (SCP) continues to deliver a valuable service for some of our most vulnerable young people. Currently, the SCP receives annual funding of 24.7 million.

My Department works with the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) to ensure that necessary resources are available to support this programme and to ensure staffing levels are sufficient to deliver a high quality service for those young people most at risk of early school leaving. Tusla (EWS) has advised that the schools referred to by the Deputy are part of Together Opportunities for Education SCP (TOFE). The funding to TOFE SCP is €181,559.

In recognition of the need for a strong policy platform for educational welfare services, including the SCP, I requested my officials establish a Task Group to support the further development and integration of these services. The work of this group is near completion and I am eager to ensure that output will result in a clear blueprint for the development of the three strands of the EWS, including the SCP.

A consultation event on the blueprint was held on June 10th where those working with vulnerable young people as part of the EWS had an opportunity to express their views and help shape the policy blueprint prior to its publication.

As part of the implementation of the actions contained in the blueprint I have requested that a new SCP scheme be scoped out and developed to ensure that its reach, resources and impact are maximised in supporting young people .

I can assure the Deputy that my Department and Tusla Educational Welfare Service are fully committed to the future of the School Completion Programme and will continue to work to ensure that it will deliver the best possible outcomes for young people at risk of early school-leaving.