Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the new programme for providing supports to children with disabilities in pre-school represents meaningful progress in terms of educational equality for our children.
“This is great for our children with disabilities, particularly those attending preschool.
“Accessibility to our education system was one of the primary reasons why I first entered politics, as two of my four children at home have learning disabilities.
“I knew quite quickly that I couldn’t influence meaningful change in our educational system from home and I am very proud to say that we have achieved a great amount for both children and adults living with disabilities in the last five years.
“I have worked closely with Minister for Children, James Reilly, and Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, for many years and I am thrilled to say that more than 7,500 children will benefit from this truly inclusive care and education system.
“Early years are vital for all children and this new Government funded support model will certainly make a real difference to children with disabilities, allowing them to fully participate in free pre-school, in mainstream school.
“We have seen many reports on education and children with disabilities; however the key difference this time is that these findings and actions are to be backed up by a budget of €17 million to ensure they are met.
“The supports launched today include:
• enhanced continuing professional development for early years practitioners
• grants for equipment, appliances and minor alterations
• increased capitation for certain complex cases
• access to therapeutic intervention
“My children are no longer of pre-school going age, but I know first-hand the struggles that some parents and children with disabilities may face when entering pre-school, or not, as the case may be. Today’s announcement will certainly make life easier for so, so many, and will have long term benefits for our children, as they progress through the education system.”