Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
72. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when he will publish the report of the review which his Department commissioned to identify the supports and barriers to accessing higher education for lone parents and to examine measures to increase participation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1809/17]
The review of the supports and barriers to accessing higher education for lone parents is currently being finalised and will be completed by the end of Quarter 1 2017.
The review is being conducted by a multi-disciplinary team from NUI Maynooth. The review process is being overseen by a steering committee comprising officials from my Department and from the Departments of Social Protection and Children and Youth Affairs, as well as the Higher Education Authority.
The review has examined existing data and the supports that are currently available for lone parents, with a view to identifying the specific challenges faced by lone parents in accessing higher education. The intention is to identify measures and best practice that will address those challenges in the future.
The review was sufficiently progressed to inform policy discussions between the relevant Departments in advance of Budget 2017.
In this context, I secured additional funding of €1 million in Budget 2017 to support more lone parents to participate in higher education. This new funding will be used to respond to the recommendations contained in the review.
The additional funding I received for lone parents in Budget 2017 will be complemented by measures announced by my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, to assist lone parents to return to education. These measures include the reintroduction of the €500 annual cost of Education allowance.
The Minister for Children & Youth Affairs also is introducing a programme of affordable child care which will be of significant help to lone parents who are using childcare.