Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
64. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will implement the pre-school provision recommendation 5.2 from the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, to support early intervention for all children with special educational needs; the timeline for this implementation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34517/08]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Deputy John Moloney): The Education for People with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 provides a statutory framework for the delivery of educational services to people with special educational needs. Responsibility for implementation of this legislation lies primarily with the Department of Education and Science.
The EPSEN Act has not yet been commenced. However, I am not aware of any recommendation in the Act of the kind referred to by the Deputy. If the Deputy can furnish my office with more detail on what she has in mind, I will endeavour to establish the background.
65. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will introduce a pilot scheme of pre-school classes for children with Down syndrome, metabolic disorders, and ADHD similar to the pilot project for children with autistic spectrum disorders; the timeline for this implementation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34518/08]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Deputy John Moloney): The guiding principle of mainstreaming public services for people with disabilities was adopted by the government in 2000. The National Disability Strategy and the components contained therein, most notably the Disability Act 2005 and the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, provide a legal basis for this principle.
It is a commonly held view that early educational interventions should, where possible, take place within the existing Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) infrastructure. Within these settings, the staff have a critical role in mediating the learning environment and ensuring that there is an appropriate and effective environment for children with differing learning profiles. Consequently, I have no plans to introduce such a separate pilot scheme of the kind suggested.
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