UPDATE: Family Carers Ireland and a number of other disability organisations will meet with the Minister for Education and department officials on Monday, January 11th.
Family Carers Ireland has written to the Minister for Education Norma Foley to request a seat at the table for any discussion regarding the decision to close special schools and classes for children with additional needs from January 11th.
The national charity representing Ireland’s 500,000 family carers has been contacted by thousands of family carers who are extremely disappointed, angry and upset at this U-turn by Government – particularly those for whom “remote learning” is simply not an option. Many parents are facing huge uncertainty having heard nothing from schools as to what will happen from next Monday.
Family Carers Ireland understands that the Government faces a massive challenge in protecting the most vulnerable in our society from Covid-19. However, Minister Foley herself has stated that it remains her “strong belief that this period of time is crucial for the mental wellbeing of all children with special needs.”
Urgent engagement with those caring for children with additional needs is absolutely essential in the days ahead and a suite of solutions must be brought forward which includes in-school education, remote learning where practical and in-home supports where appropriate.
“Family Carers have been in contact expressing real concern around the further regression of their children if they cannot access school and education over the coming weeks and months. They witnessed first-hand the negative impact of lockdown on their children’s mental health, social skills and well-being during the last restrictions and say they cannot face this situation again without adequate supports. Many parents have spoken in particular about the increase in behaviours that challenge over the last lock down and are fearful that these will return and become more severe” stated Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland.
“We are joining other disability organisations in asking the Minister to convene an immediate meeting to discuss these critical issues and work together to formulate workable solutions”.