Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Questions (184)

Carol Nolan


184. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if supports such as home-school liaison officers will be provided to support families who have children of schoolgoing age in emergency accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48532/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A range of resources are available to support schools in dealing with identified additional educational needs, including needs which may arise for children who are experiencing homelessness. These include National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) supports and Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) supports.

The staff of schools are very sensitive to the needs of children who are experiencing disruption in their lives and make every effort to support the additional needs they experience. Where they are aware of homelessness and where it is impacting on school attendance and participation they can engage closely with the Educational Welfare Service of Tusla and with the support services of my own Department including the National Educational Psychological Service.

Identification of Need and Early Intervention Strategies are considered key components to supporting children who experience homelessness. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) works with schools through the DES Continuum of Support framework.  NEPS psychologists are available to provide advice and guidance to Principals and teachers in relation to individual students’ needs and in the development of whole school approaches to support inclusion, participation and integration.

DEIS is the main policy initiative of my Department to tackle educational disadvantage. DEIS provides additional supports, through the DEIS School Support Programme, to schools identified as having the highest concentrations of pupils from disadvantaged communities.  Schools can use these additional resources to meet the identified needs of their pupil cohort, including the additional needs that may arise for pupils experiencing homelessness.    

DEIS Schools can also avail of Home School Community Liaison and School Completion supports provided by Tusla’s Educational Support Service in relation to school attendance, retention and progression which can be areas of particular challenge to pupils experiencing homelessness.

The Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme is a school-based intervention provided to DEIS schools to address the needs of pupils and families through acknowledging and developing the role of the parent as primary educator.

All DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the HSCL Scheme. The scheme is delivered by 415 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.

Tusla Education Support Services (TESS) aims to address issues in relation to participation, retention and attendance in schools.  Educational Welfare Officers of TUSLA Education Support Services work with young people and their families who are experiencing difficulty with school attendance and works with schools to put supports in place to assist families where needed.

TUSLA have also produced a guidance leaflet on school attendance information for families experiencing homelessness outlining how the educational welfare service can assist.