As the Deputy may be aware, responsibility for the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was transferred from the Department of Education to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on its establishment in 2011.
In January 2014 Tusla, the Child and Family Agency was established and as part of the remit of the Agency, it took on the functions of the former NEWB: chiefly the Education and Welfare Services (EWS). The EWS comprises the statutory functions relating to Educational Welfare Officers; the operationalisation of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme; and the funding of the School Completion Programme (SCP).
The 124 SCP projects are funded in line with the academic term, commencing in September each year. Funding provision for the SCP in the 2018/2019 school year stands at €24.7 million. Tusla has advised that full-year cost of restoring the SCP to 2010 funding levels would be in the region of €7.3 million per annum.
As the Deputy may be aware, my Department has developed and is currently consulting on the draft Blueprint for the Development of Education and Welfare Services which, for the first time will provide a policy platform to secure and further sustain this valuable work. A substantive area of action in this policy relates to the SCP and the redesign of the School Completion Programme to ensure its development is actively supported.
As part of this process I will be seeking to ensure appropriate and additional funding is secured to support the further development of the School Completion Programme in meeting the needs of children and 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.