Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said that children and young people with special needs in Cork will benefit from a new programme called Summer Provision.
Senator Lombard said: “Traditionally known as ‘July Provision’, summer education has been hugely important to children with special needs. The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, has confirmed that this will happen this year but as a significantly expanded programme for children with special needs and students in DEIS schools.
“This is positive news for many families in Cork. All through this Covid pandemic, the Government has consistently acknowledged the additional challenges faced by children with special needs at this time, and I know many families here locally who were concerned at their children missing out on school. So, I am really pleased to see the Government follow through on the commitment to do something for this vulnerable group of students who rely so much on their annual summer programme.
“A wide range of children with special needs will benefit from Summer Provision this year, including those with severe and profound and moderate needs, to those with autism, Down syndrome, and those with severe visual or hearing impairment.
“Teachers and special needs assistants are being given the opportunity to offer provision in-school or in the home. DEIS schools are also being offered the chance to run educational summer camps on literacy and numeracy, wellbeing and re-engagement with school. In addition, the HSE aims to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with complex needs.
“I am informed that if possible, school transport will be provided to support the programme where appropriate. The Government is also finalising plans to provide the Schools Meals Programme for schools taking part in Summer Provision 2020.
“I encourage anyone who wishes to register their child for Summer Provision to do so via the dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs, at gov.ie/summerprovision”, Senator Lombard concluded.
Summer Provision 2020 will involve three strands with different options for parents, students and schools.
- The first is in-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs to help prevent regression among children with special needs.
- The second is an opportunity for all 890 DEIS schools to provide summer camps, including a numeracy and literacy programme for primary pupils and a programme of re-engagement for post-primary students.
- The third is Health Service Executive-led. It will aim to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with complex needs.
The following children with special needs will be eligible for the first strand of the Summer Provision as part of in-school and home-based programmes:
- Students with autism or severe and profound learning difficulties.
- Children in special classes in primary schools and special schools
- Children transitioning from early years into a special class in primary school or special school.
- Primary pupils in mainstream classes who present with Down syndrome, students who are deaf or most severe hard of hearing, students who are blind or have most severe visual impairment, children with a moderate general learning disability or those diagnosed with a severe emotional behavioural difficulty.
Minister McHugh said: “As a Government we are determined to support families who have felt the deepest impact from the closure of schools. Summer Provision 2020 is a significant expansion of support for the children and families who are most in need. The aim is to help address the concerns that families are feeling over the loss of in-school time and learning for children with special needs and those at greatest risk of disadvantage.
“Teachers and schools have made huge efforts in the last three months. In no time at all, they have taken massive strides on remote learning and striving to make sure no child is left behind. They deserve enormous credit for that. I hope many schools, teachers and SNAs feel they can get involved in Summer Provision, in the knowledge that the Department will provide all necessary assistance and support.”
Minister Harris said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone but it is even tougher for some families in our country. Children with additional needs and their families have been severely missing the support, activity and connectivity that they need. I am so pleased my Department and the Department of Education and Skills have worked together to provide a programme of supports that I hope will be of really practical benefit.
“The health-led part of the programme will have the input of clinicians to ensure that activities are tailored to the needs of children and has three main goals: to provide short respite breaks for families; to facilitate children with complex needs to being the transition from their homes to re-engaging with their communities and schools; and to provide safe opportunities for the children to engage with their peers.
“I hope that children and parents can now look forward to a Summer 2020 that is a bit better for them and brings some relief after what has been a very challenging and difficult time.”
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said: “I am very pleased to support this initiative. While we are all challenged as a society by the restrictions and circumstances created by the Covid 19 emergency, some groups are more exposed than others.
“I believe that we should do as much as we possibly can to support vulnerable children through the summer – and throughout the crisis – and the measures announced today will allow us to do just that.”