Deputy Michael Lowry has called for immediate Governmental intervention to resolve an issue affecting children with special needs, and their families, in South Tipperary.
Deputy Lowry stated:
“In the past number of weeks it has become clearly evident that there has been an internal policy shift by HSE officials, in South Tipperary, which is having an adverse impact on the ability of children with special needs to access the school transport they are clearly entitled to. This issue is affecting children who are in pre-school at present and who will be commencing primary school in September 2014.
“As of the 1st of September last the HSE team have made the conscious decision not to make a recommendation to place a child with special education needs in a non-mainstream setting. This abdication of responsibility is creating a nightmare for parents who are finding it impossible to access school transport without this recommendation. Under the current system, school transport will only be provided if there is a clear statement in the HSE professional team’s report that the child requires a specialised setting. Prior to September 1st these recommendations were given without any difficulty.
“It seems that there is some internal conflict as to where responsibility for this recommendation lies. This bureaucratic nightmare is causing huge turmoil, upset and concern in families and is also having a knock on effect on the Special Education Schools in the South Tipperary area, mainstream schools and the wider community. This dispute is also having an effect on Applications for Aids for children with special needs.”
“Special schools and classes have a legitimate, and indeed much needed and valued place, in the provision of education. They are an essential facet to our education and are instrumental in ensuring the best start in life for countless children and assist those with special needs in reaching their full potential in life. We are all aware of the importance of early intervention and the impact this can have on a person’s ability to live independently later in life. It is simply unacceptable that these children are facing such mammoth difficulties in trying to access the transport they are entitled to, for the school that they have been approved for.
“These children have a clear right to education and parents should be entitled to access the schools that best serve the needs of their kids without having to grapple with red tape and fight with an impossible system. These parents are seeking to do the best for their children and continually coming up against a brick wall.”