Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has called on the Minister for Children James Reilly to take action to improve preschool care around the country.
Deputy Troy made the comments after the publication of the ‘Pobal Annual Early Years Sector Survey Report 2014’ and expressed concern that the childcare crisis has worsened over the last year.
“Children with special education needs face a huge challenge in participating in pre-school education and, according to this latest report, the situation has gotten drastically worse over the last year.” said Deputy Troy.
“According to the survey, there has been a reduction in 11% in the number of SNAs available to pre-schoolers in 2014 compared to 2013, and a 7% reduction in the number of SNA hours per childcare provider.
“This report has made it clear that the mainstream early childhood services do not have the funding or supports to provide equality of opportunity for children with special needs to access preschool.
“There has been absolutely no joined up thinking on this issue. Minister James Reilly has spent his time shirking responsibility for preschool children with special needs or delayed developmental issues. The Minister has told parents that he has no ‘’statutory obligation’’ to put adequate numbers of SNAs in place to allow all children to participate in early education.
“In response to repeated pleas for action this year, the Minister has told parents of young children that they will have to wait until after his inter-Departmental consultation concludes. With the publication of his long awaited report yesterday, the Minister has finally revealed the true extent of his duplicitousness on this issue.
“Minister Reilly’s long awaited policy report does not reveal any new actions to be taken to address the absence of SNAs in the ECCE programme and inability of children with SEN to participate in preshool.”