Fianna Fáil secures commitment from Children’s Minister not to remove Over Age Exemption from children with disabilities

Margaret Murphy O’Mahony

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that her party secured a commitment from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs not to remove the Overage Age Exemption from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme as originally planned.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after communication between Fianna Fáil and the Minister’s office resulting in the Minister committing to suspending the proposal and consulting with parents of children affected.

“This is great news for the many parents up and down the country who have been racked with worry and anxiety since it became clear over the past number of weeks that such a proposal was on the table.

The Over Age Exemption previously allowed children with disabilities attend an ECCE place for longer before attending primary school, thereby giving them more time to prepare for this change.

“As I said last week, this extra year of preschool can give children with disabilities the chance to prepare a bit more before they start in a mainstream school.

“Throughout my time as a Special Needs Assistant, I saw first-hand how important this extra year can be, and I am thankful to the Minister for listening to my concerns and suspending the proposals.

“It’s crucial that in-depth consultations and discussions take place between the Department and parents. I’d argue that if this had taken place in advance of this proposal being put forward, it would never have been announced in the first instance.

“While we have a temporary suspension agreed at present, I will be working to ensure that the Over Age Exemptions continues without interruption, It is vital for children as they start their school life,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.

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