Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher has called on the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs to reduce a damaging cut to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme for children with disabilities.
The Overage Age Exemption provided an additional year on the scheme for children with disabilities to give them more time to prepare for primary school.
Senator Gallagher commented, “This cruel cut, which was brought in under the radar, will impact children with disabilities at the very time they need this additional help the most. Beginning primary school is a major landmark in every child’s life and can be a very daunting experience. It was for this very reason that this support was introduced for children with disabilities.
“The Overage Age exemption allows children with disabilities extra time to adapt to the change of moving from a childcare setting to a school environment, and it allows them to do this in their own time and at their own pace. The scrapping of this important exemption will force children to start school before they are fully ready, which will increase stress and anxiety levels for the children themselves as well as their parents.
“My office has been contacted by a number of parents who are extremely worried about the situation. A Facebook group, which has been set up by parents whose children will be affected by the cut, has already secured more than 15,000 signatures for a petition calling on Minister Katherine Zappone to reverse this mean cut.
“This exemption is an important part of the ECCE scheme and should not be withdrawn so easily. Minister Zappone needs to reconsider this unfair decision and reinstate this additional year for some of the most vulnerable children across the county”.