Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says Tusla’s Education Support Services should be extended in Donegal

Pringle says Tusla’s Education Support Services should be extended in Donegal

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said he would like to see Tusla’s Education Support Service extended, especially in Donegal.

Deputy Pringle said: “I note a lack of schools involved in the School Completion Programme in south Donegal. It is important to work with pupils, students, parents, schools and community support services to encourage and improve attendance, participation and retention across the country and I would hate to see Donegal children left behind on this issue.

“Minister Foley has stated: ‘The transfer of education welfare functions provides a renewed opportunity for (these) services’. I hope that she is right on this and that the transfer of powers will allow for more supports that can be accessed by children and families who are referred to educational welfare services in Donegal,” he said.

Deputy Pringle was addressing the Dáil on Thursday during second stage debate on the Child and Family Agency (Amendment) Bill. He said the need to transfer powers relating to the educational welfare function of Tusla to the minister and Department of Education seems like a reasonable and logical step.

“I would like to express my concern, however, of certain functions being covered by two departments. While the technical aspect of the proposal may appear to be an effective distribution of regulation and oversight, I would be interested in seeing how this will carry through in practice,” he said.

He said while the amendment will transfer particular powers to the Department, Tusla will still fall under both the Department of Education and the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Deputy Pringle said: “How do the ministers propose to ensure efficient and effective inter- and cross-departmental strategies? We have seen how cross-departmental responsibility hasn’t worked well in the past and I would be doubtful about how it may work better in this case.”

He said: “With interdepartmental issues there is a real potential for gaps to appear and for important issues to fall through those gaps and we need to make sure we are taking all the steps necessary to ensure that this does not happen here.”

Deputy Pringle said: “Overall I do support this bill. However, I would like to see my concerns taken on board and addressed, as I believe there have been real flaws in how interdepartmental issues have been addressed in the past and this needs to change.”

He said an amendment is needed to ensure there’s oversight on how the bill works in practice, to make sure the bill is delivering the intended results.

Deputy Pringle said: “This is vitally important when we’re talking about children’s education, that this works smoothly and works well, and works in everybody’s interests.”