Govt attack on children with special needs must stop

ClasroomFianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has accused the government of treating children with special needs as an ‘easy target’ for budget cuts.

Schools in Mayo and right across the country are to be hit with yet another dramatic reduction in resource hours from September.  This follows a 10% cut in June 2011 and a further 5% and cut in June 2012.  Overall, resource hours for children with special needs will be down 25% in the lifetime of this government.

Deputy Calleary has described it as an outrageous decision that will have an impact right across the school system.

“This is very distressing news, particularly for parents of children with special needs who have already seen dramatic cuts in teaching supports.  It’s also distressing for all parents of young children who know that the further erosion of special needs resources will damage the entire classroom environment,” the Mayo Deputy said.

“This is the third consecutive cut to resource hours since Ruairí Quinn was appointed Education Minister.  In real terms, it means that a school in Mayo with 20 or more children with special needs will have lost one of their four special needs teachers since September 2011.  Children with a range of disabilities who are entitled to additional supports will have seen their resource hours slashed by a quarter on Minister Quinn’s watch.

“People simply cannot believe that children with special needs are yet again being targeted for even more cuts.  I have spoken to a number of parents whose children have already suffered a dramatic reduction in resource hours over the past two years and they believe their development has suffered as a result.  A further reduction seems inconceivable.

“I have been saying for some time that this government is engaged in a sustained attack on children with special needs.  This latest news is further evidence of that. Not only is Minister Quinn eroding special needs supports in schools, his Labour colleague the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has cynically cut the Domiciliary Care Allowance under the guise of ‘reviews’ and changes to criteria. Hundreds of children with intellectual disabilities have lost their payments as a result.

 

“Fianna Fáil will oppose these cuts at every turn.  This government is undoing much of the good work in recent years that has led to increased supports for children with special needs. It’s a regressive policy that can only damage our education system.”

 

 

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