Written answers

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

School Completion Programme

Photo of Jonathan O'BrienJonathan O'Brien (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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114. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the cost of reversing the cuts to the school completion programme which were implemented under this Government. [6176/15]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The School Completion Programme aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of young people who are risk of educational disadvantage. The Programme is a targeted intervention aimed at school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It provides targeted supports annually to approximately 36,000 children.

The School Completion Programme was subject to a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in 2011, requiring an annual reduction in budget of 6.5% in the period 2012-2014, from €30.258m in 2011 to the 2014 allocation of €24.756m. Since 1st January 2014, the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to local projects. The Agency has approved local projects' school retention plans for the 2014/2015 academic year. The first instalment of 2014/15 funding issued to local projects last September. Further payments totalling approximately €9.5m have issued over the past month, with a third instalment planned for payment in May 2015.

The estimate for the Child and Family Agency for 2015 is €631 million, a 4.3% increase on its 2014 allocation. My Department has recently issued a Performance Statement to the Agency under Section 45 of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013. This includes my priorities for consideration in the development of the Agency's 2015 Business Plan. The Business Plan will set out the Agency's proposed activities, programmes and priorities for 2015, including provision for the School Completion Programme, in the light of the monies available.

A review of the School Completion Programme has commenced. It is being carried out by the ESRI following a procurement process managed by the Agency. The programme has been in operation since 2002 and I believe that it is timely that a review be carried out. The Review is an important initiative to plan for the future development of this Programme. It is envisaged that the review will be completed during the 2014/2015 academic year.

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