Calls for Minister to reverse cuts to childhood scheme
AN EMERGENCY motion has been tabled by Sinn Fein councillors Mark Ward and Danny O’Brien for today’s (Monday) council meeting – calling on Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to reverse the cut to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme.
The over-age exemption has been removed from the scheme from September 2018.
“Many children with additional needs require more time to prepare before they move onto national school,” said Cllr Ward.
He says the scheme pays a fee to participating playschools and day-care services to provide a pre-school service free of charge to children for a set number of hours.
“Parents of children of between three to five years and six months at the end of the pre-school year are eligible for the scheme,” said Cllr Ward.
“Previously if your child is over the eligibility age requirement due to special needs they may be able to get an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Scheme.”
Cllr O’Brien also believes “families need this support – not every child is the same.”
“This exemption provides additional services to the children and families that need it most and I believe that one-size fits-all approach on this matter is not adequate or in the best needs of the child and parents affected.”
An online petition by Parents of Children with Down’s syndrome, has surpassed 20,000 signatures.
The petition states the original exemption ensured children with a disability were not sent to mainstream school before they were ready to do so.