Ministers must clarify issues surrounding Over Age Exemption for children with disabilities – Brendan Smith T.D.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Children and the Minister for Disabilities to reverse a decision to remove the Over Age exemption from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme from next September.

This exemption allowed children with disabilities to take up an ECCE place for a longer period of time to help them prepare for the transition to primary school.

Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “I have been contacted by a number of families who are extremely worried about the impact that the removal of this exemption will have on their children.  This is an important scheme, which helps children with disabilities better prepare for starting mainstream primary school.

“Children with disabilities sometimes need to be given additional tools to help them adapt before they enter a new school setting, and this exemption scheme provided them with the time and support they needed to do that.  The fact that it has been cut is a serious concern.

“I’m shocked that Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath would allow his government colleague, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, bring in these regressive changes.

“I am calling on both Ministers to reconsider this unfair move and to reinstate this extremely important element of the ECCE scheme for children with disabilities”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.