Tuesday, 5 October 2021
Child and Family Agency (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
I would like to thank the Minister and his Department for their work on this Bill. The whole school completion programme and the home school community liaison scheme are essential components of the education system through the work that is done throughout the country on those programmes. A lot of work is done with the whole school community in an integrated way, within all of the community, to really help target those children who are at risk and to ensure that they can stay within the school environment. These programmes find their natural home in the Department of Education. Indeed, they started off there when they were first introduced. The announcement in the programme for Government that they will be transferred to the Department is most welcome. I appreciate that the formalities are completed now. I thank the Minister for playing his part in that. I wish the Department of Education well in the transfer of the programmes. I am aware that there was an increase in the budget earlier this year in respect of the school completion programme. We hope there will be continued investment in this area.
I thank the Minister for coming to the House today and for this really important work. The programmes are now in their rightful place. The Peter McVerry Trust has stated that failure to complete the junior certificate is a big factor in homelessness. School completion for Travellers, with whom I worked for a number of years doing literacy and numeracy workshops, remains a serious problem. For example, only 13.3% of female Travellers are educated up to upper secondary level or above, compared with 69.1% of the general population. Therefore, these are really important issues. I thank the Minister for taking the time to do what was required to get them the supports they need under the Department of Education.