Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Department of Education and Skills
Education Welfare Service
The National Educational Welfare Board is developing a nationwide service on a continuing basis that is accessible to schools, parents/guardians and others concerned with the welfare of young people. For this purpose, Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) have been deployed throughout the country to provide a welfare-focused service to support regular school attendance and discharge the Board's functions locally operating through 5 regional teams, with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. A service is provided from 26 locations nationwide. Staff are deployed in areas of greatest disadvantage and in areas designated under the Government's RAPID programme. In addition, the Board follows up on urgent cases nationally where children are not currently receiving an education.
Educational Welfare Officers play a pivotal role in implementing the service provided by the NEWB through monitoring school attendance and working to improve it. The EWOs also help parents that are experiencing a difficulty with getting a school place for their child. The NEWB has advised that the matter for additional resources for all areas is kept under continuous review. Areas are prioritized for additional service based on a combined analysis of demographic data, absence data reported from schools and other indicators of disadvantage. An additional 15 staff have been allocated to the NEWB in 2007. This brings the current authorised staffing of the Board to 109 posts of which 90 are allocated to working directly in the service delivery area. The staffing complement is comprised of 19 HQ and support staff, 5 regional managers, 13 Senior EWO's and 72 EWO's.
This government is determined to do all that is possible to ensure that every child gets all the opportunities and support they need to enable them to achieve their potential and participate fully in education. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department's Estimates for 2007 includes a provision of â¬9.808 million for the National Educational Welfare Board. This represents an increase of 20% on the 2006 allocation and of 50% on the 2004 level. This substantial increase in funding is a clear indication of this Government's commitment to prioritise investment in favour of those most at risk. Through increased investment and improved services we are determined to optimise access, participation and educational outcomes at every level of the system for disadvantaged groups. I will be keeping the issue of the NEWB's staffing under review in light of the rollout of services, the scope for integrated working and any proposals that the Board may put to me in relation to clearly identified priority needs.
In respect of the Deputy's specific question relating to Monaghan, I am informed that the county currently has the services of a Senior Educational Welfare officer who provides a service to all schools in Monaghan and for children in the area who fit the criteria of 20 days unexplained absence.