Educational needs of children in care

Co-Authored Letter published in the Irish Times of September 22nd 2020 Sir, – A high-level national working group to address the cross-departmental responsibilities of the State to children in care, with a specific focus on meeting their holistic educational needs in a coordinated way, across all age levels, is urgently needed to address the current glaring strategic gap in the education system on this issue. The majority of children in the care of the State (under Tusla) live with foster carers. According to current Tusla figures, there are 6,029 children in care, of which 92.1 per cent were placed in foster care (26.3 per cent of those in foster care being placed in relative foster care). It is estimated that in every primary school in Ireland there is at least one young person in that school who is in care, and in every secondary school there are between four and five young people in care. Key issues need to be considered at an official level by an interdepartmental group across the Department of Education and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Clarity is needed on which ministry is responsible for leading state policy regarding children in the care of the State, and which ministries share or have responsibility, at any level, for children in the care of the State. It is a concern that children in care may be overrepresented in the suspension and exclusion groups. As children in care experience trauma, loss and attachment difficulties, there is a lack of school-based emotional counselling and therapeutic supports for this and other vulnerable groups. Other additional mentoring supports in schools...
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