Tuesday, 11 March 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
137. Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to extend the school psychological service to the north-east to assist children with educational difficulties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6558/97]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): There is a school-based psychological service provided by my Department to all second-level schools in all regions of the country. Parents may access this service through the second level school attended by an individual pupil. Psychologists serving second level schools carry out assessments and advise on the needs of children with educational difficulties as the resources of time and personnel allow.
The psychological service provided by my Department to primary schools is only available to schools serving disadvantaged areas in the cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick. This service to primary schools has not been extended to the north-east as yet.
In general, responsibility for arranging for the psychological assessment of children in national schools, where such is deemed necessary, is a matter for the regional health boards through the appropriate director of community care. Parents  may access this service through the school medical service or the family doctor.
When it becomes possible to have further expansion of the Department of Education's psychological service, the needs of children and of schools in the north-east and in other areas, will be borne in mind. It will be some time before the psychological service from my Department will be in a position to take over all responsibility for psychological assessments for educational purposes from the health authorities.
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