“My gut feeling is that this could be a growing problem, as schools are being left to manage children with behavioural needs without detailed guidelines and proper supports being provided to them.”

Social Democrats’ Spokesperson on Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, today backed calls for the Department of Education to step in to regulate and reduce the use of restraint and seclusion practices in our schools.

Cllr Whitmore said:

“I fully support the call from Inclusion Ireland for the Department to urgently provide guidance to Boards of Management and schools on the use of restraint and seclusion practices for children. This is about the well-being and safety of both children and staff, and there is no way that schools should be going without detailed guidance or support.

“We have to remember that schools’ Boards of Management are run on a voluntary basis, mainly by members of the local community. They depend upon clear guidance from the Department.”

Councillor Whitmore also called upon the Department to implement a system of monitoring and reporting of such instances with the aim of both regulating and reducing their occurrence.

“My gut feeling is that this could be a growing problem, as schools are being left to manage children with behavioural needs without detailed guidelines and proper supports being provided to them,” said Councillor Whitmore.

“This issue is, however, part of much bigger failing by the Department to provide sufficient supports to school children presenting with challenging behaviour. The lengthy wait times for children to be assessed means that, in many cases, schools and parents are left to manage without supports for these children for months and years.

“I recently met with a Wicklow parent who was told by the HSE that her son would have to wait 30 months to see a clinical psychologist, 24 months for an occupational therapist, and 18 months for a speech and language therapist. This was a child demonstrating serious behavioural needs, but who would be unable to access any specific supports from the HSE until they were formally assessed.

“It is unacceptable that parents have to wait that length of time just to determine their child’s needs. Early intervention is critical to ensure that children get the best possible attention and outcomes. This is clearly not happening.”

ENDS

26th September 2018