Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal, Darragh O’Brien has described the refusal of Special Needs Assistant support for children with disabilities to enter into a 2nd ECCE preschool year as appalling.

Speaking on the issue, O’Brien said, “As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I am concerned to learn that many students with complex needs have been denied the support of an SNA for a second year.

“These are students who would have previously received an SNA up to the maximum 15 hours per week for the first preschool year. This funding is now unavailable on the premise that it can only be awarded for 1 year.

“The support of an SNA is crucial in order to facilitate attendance and an appropriate experience of learning. The reality that students in my constituency and even nationwide could be excluded from a 2nd ECCE preschool year as they require supports for their needs, is a huge worry.

“The department must clarify why a policy has been adopted to seemingly allow all Irish children access to a second pre-school year free, yet a child with special or particular needs in pre-school is not entitled to an SNA free. That would render their first year in pre-school a waste.

“I have written to the Minister to seek explanation and to resolve the issue as a matter of urgency to allow these students begin their second school year in a formal learning experience, like all other children,” added O’Brien.