Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed a new Government programme to increase support for children with disabilities in pre-school.
Deputy McFadden commended Minister for Children, Dr James Reilly, for securing €17m in Budget 2016 to establish a new programme next year which will increase supports for children with disabilities in pre-school. “The programme, which will benefit approximately 7,500 children, will deliver truly inclusive care and education for children,” Deputy McFadden said. “The idea is to enable children with disabilities to fully participate in free pre-school in mainstream settings alongside their peers.”
The supports announced 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.
“What is really welcome about this new programme is that it doesn’t rely on diagnosis, but focuses on children’s developmental level, their abilities and their needs,” said Deputy McFadden. “This is really important as many children don’t have a formal diagnosis when they start pre-school. No doubt this will be welcomed by parents. From next September, we will have a more equal pre-school system for children with additional needs and requirements.”