Burton welcomes halt to planned changes to Early Childhood Care and Education scheme

07 December 2017

Labour TD Joan Burton has said that the needs of children with disabilities must take centre stage when any changes are being considered to the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme.

Deputy Burton has welcomed the announcement by Minister Zappone that a consultation process is being launched with parents on the issue, and will raise the matter with the Minister in the Dáil this evening.

Deputy Burton said:

“I am really pleased that the Minister has noted the concerns of the many parents of children with special needs who were extremely worried about planned changes to the Over Age Exemption in the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme.

“Some of the impacted parents have described the importance of that extra year in ensuring their children are ready to start primary school, and how removing the exemption could put their children on the back foot straight away.

“It is absolutely vital that all our children have the best possible start in life, and that the concerns of these parents are heard. More than 20,000 people have already signed a petition on the issue, calling for the plans to be reversed.

“The ‘pause’ announced by the Minister yesterday is welcome, but it is unclear as to why parents did not have a say on the changes in the first place, which would have prevented the stress and worry that’s been caused.

“I hope the consultation process that’s been announced will ensure an outcome that puts the needs of all children first, and that children with special needs are supported in every way they can when starting school, and throughout their journey through the school system.

“Each child is different and policy has to reflect the needs of every child, their parents and families who are the ones who know their own child best.”

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