Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Ceisteanna (200)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

200. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the case of a person (details supplied) will be assessed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37889/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs does its best to ensure, in so far as possible, the equitable treatment of all children and families who apply for funding under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme.

However, in order to ensure objectivity and fairness, it is essential that clear and transparent rules exist for the scheme and that they are applied evenly. An essential component of the ECCE programme rules is an eligibility start date to ensure that the programme can be administered and budgeted for in a transparent and appropriate manner.

Since the introduction of the ECCE programme in 2010, age limits have been used to determine eligibility. The upper age limit was set for the ECCE programme in consultation with senior officials from the Early Years Education Policy Unit in the Department of Education and Skills and ensures that children transition into primary school with their peers.

From the details supplied by the Deputy the child in question would have been eligible to avail of the ECCE programme from January 2018 to June 2019. Due to the programme rules concerning the upper age limit, they will not be eligible to avail of ECCE for the 2019/2020 programme year (beginning in September 2019).

An overage exemption for the ECCE programme can be availed of in a case where a child has a special or additional need. Current policy requires that any request for an exemption from ECCE age eligibility must be supported by a letter from a relevant medical specialist (not a GP/PHN), specifically recommending an extra year of preschool for a child. This requirement is not intended to undermine the view of a parent or teacher in relation to a child's needs but, rather, to maintain a clear and standard basis for applying exemptions.

If the parents in this instance believe they may be eligible due to additional needs, they may apply in writing for an exemption from the ECCE age eligibility rules. In this regard, the application should be accompanied by a supporting letter from a relevant medical specialist.

 

Examples of the type of specialist/medical reports accepted are as follows:

- Speech & Language Therapist

- Occupational Therapist

- Senior Psychologist

- Physiotherapist

- Paediatrician/developmental

- Neurologist

- Psychiatrist

- Psychotherapist

- Cardiologist

- Oncologist

- Ophthalmologist

- Otolaryngologist (ENT specialist)

- Gastroenterologist.

This is not an exhaustive list; however it provides an example of what is accepted.

The application and supporting letter should be forwarded to the following address: 

ECCE Exemptions,

Department of Children and Youth Affairs,

Block, Block 1 Miesian Plaza,

50-58 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2,

D02XW14.

Alternatively, applications or further queries can be emailed to:  EYQueries@dcya.gov.ie.