Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Tuesday, 13 June 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 521 No. 1

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  305.  Ms Shortall  Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods   if his attention has been drawn to the fact that parents are having to pay for psychological assessment services because of the serious delays in providing special needs/resource teachers to some schools and the general delays in his Departments psychological assessment services; if he will refund such moneys to parents in these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16773/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  I am aware that the phased nature of the development of the national educational psychological service – NEPS – has led to difficulties in gaining access to psychological services in some areas. The entitlements of children with special educational needs has led to a noticeable increase in the demand for psychological assessments, including many requests from schools not yet being served by NEPS. I am conscious of the difficulties that this is causing at present. The matter is being addressed as a top priority by a working group of the management committee of NEPS, which includes representatives from the Department of Health and Children and the health boards. The objective is to ensure that during the development phase of NEPS, structures and procedures are put in place to deal with urgent requests for psychological assessments.

My Department is fully committed to the extension of an educational psychological service to all schools and expects to be in a position to appoint up to 50 additional psychologists during the current year. This will double the present number of psychologists in NEPS. The management committee of NEPS is preparing a development plan for the phased expansion of the service. The priorities for expansion will be agreed by the management committee in consultation with local interests, including other providers of psychological services. It is envisaged that all schools will have a fully operational psychological service by the end of 2004.

Pending the expansion of NEPS, I have asked the management committee to prepare proposals for my consideration in relation to a short-term grants scheme for schools, which would operate under the overall management of NEPS, for the purpose of funding psychological assessments administered by private practitioners.


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