Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that news that some children with Down’s Syndrome will not qualify for Summer Provision has been an enormous disappointment and is causing deep upset to the families affected.
Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire urged the Minister to revise the criteria that is currently excluding them;
“Many children with Down’s Syndrome and their parents have found the last few months extremely difficult. Many have felt isolated, distressed, and exhausted, given the much reduced supports available.
“Many were relieved when the Minister announced in the Dáil a week ago, that children with Down’s Syndrome would qualify for Summer Provision this year. For many, being included in this would bring enormous benefits to their children, and a great relief.
“However, in recent days, I know that many parents have discovered their child will not qualify if they are in mainstream post-primary or transitioning from early years to mainstream primary.
“This is a bitter disappointment to many, particularly after many statements from the Minister that drew no distinction, but simply spoke about including children with Down’s Syndrome.
“I know some parents were already in the process of making arrangements on the strength of the Ministers statements.
“There are many children with Down’s Syndrome in mainstream post-primary, and who are moving into mainstream primary settings, who could have benefitted enormously from this. There is no good reason to exclude them.
“In my view, they feel deeply let down and that the wool was pulled over their eyes. The Minister has talked a great deal about Summer Provision being more inclusive. If he is serious about that he needs to look at this again.
“I am concerned generally that the scheme has not been adequately planned, that the preparation has not been done, and that therefore schools, families and teachers will not have been in a position to organise themselves.
“I will be writing to the Minister expressing my concern.”