Funding restored to 30 organisations – Keane

Fine Gael Senator Cáit Keane has welcomed the announcement by the Government that funding has been restored to 30 organisations under the Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO). This funding will last for 12 months before being reviewed by Pobal, and will cost €1.28 million. Just some of the organisations who will benefit include:

  • The Dyslexia Association of Ireland,
  • Irish Deaf Society
  • Arthritis Ireland,
  • The Irish Heart Foundation
  • Suas Educational Development.

Posted under Community, Education, Health, What I've been Saying

This post was written by on August 25, 2014

My Seanad speech opposing the closure of the crèche at Tallaght Hospital, 29 May 2014

I welcome the Minister. I have spoken to him and the Minister for Health about this before. This is closing a crèche by e-mail. No parents have seen the report by Canavan and Byrne, only the board of management has seen it. Will the Minister ask for a copy of the report? What is in it? I visited the crèche and there is no reason it should close. The Child and Family Agency inspected it in August 2012 and there was no reason for it to close. As Senator Zappone said, it is due to close on 29 August. This must be halted and will not close without a fight.

Senator Zappone has outlined the benefits of child care, which I will not enumerate because time is limited. A parent has advised me she will have to quit her nursing job in the hospital. She starts at 8 a.m. and must be on the road by 6 a.m. Where would she find a crèche open at that time? Many feasibility studies have been done, but I am asking the Minister to ensure monetary and social issues are taken into consideration, for example the hospital may have to replace staff. The auditors charged the crèche €1,500 to audit its books, which it could have had audited for €1,000. Such things must be made easier. Read More…

Posted under Community, Education, Health, Local Issues, What I've been Saying

This post was written by on August 18, 2014

Irish Sign Language Motion Seanad Contribution Oct. 9th 2013:

I second the motion and I am delighted to welcome representatives from the Irish Deaf Society to the Chamber.

As Senator Conway stated, my involvement on this issue with Brian Crean, Dr. John Bosco Conama and the Irish Deaf Society goes back a long way. It was important to me that I used my maiden Adjournment motion in the Seanad two years ago to raise the issue. I am afraid not much has happened since then, and I am delighted Senator Conway has put it on the agenda as a Fine Gael Private Members’ motion. It is only by keeping it on the agenda at every opportunity we will see advances. I have a lot of trust in the Minister of State that she will ensure it moves forward.

Senator Conway mentioned the Good Friday Agreement. I raised the matter at the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly which meant I had to have 15 signatures, including five each from various member Governments. Some of the Unionists initially confused Irish Sign Language with the Irish language but they were delighted to sign it and we got it through. I am awaiting a report from the three Governments to which it was sent, and the Welsh Government is preparing a Bill.

Read More…

Posted under Education, Justice, What I've been Saying

This post was written by on October 10, 2013

Education and Training Boards Bill Speech -March 2013

I welcome the Minister to the House. I compliment the Minister on the work she has done since taking office. She has shown the way. I compliment the way she has led her Department and it behoves all of the Government to get behind her in this most important portfolio. It is the most important portfolio. Many of the contributors have spoken about what it costs but we should be talking about what it saves and what the Minister can save the country by putting in place programmes she is working on. I hope everyone is reading the reports produced by the Minister, listening and putting their backs behind the Minister to ensure it is not looked at as a cost Department but as a savings Department.

There is increasing evidence on this across the world, which has been there for many years in America and more recently in Ireland. Various reports have been mentioned, including the profile of children at school, those of the Geary Institute, Professors Rutter, Scott and Perry and the Growing Up in Ireland survey. I spent my life working with preschool, whether in lecturing or whatever. Dr. Maria Montessori started off life in the slums of Italy and recognised that by getting children early in the prenatal and perinatal mothering period and also between the years of zero and three, there is a return to the state. The children led the way and showed what they could do. They brought home to their parents what they had learned.

The Minister’s speech referred to the research undertaken and the sensitive period in the process of development, laying a foundation in childhood and beyond for cognitive functioning, behavioural, social and self-regulatory capacities. Many children face various stresses during the years that can impair their healthy development. Early childhood intervention programmes are designed to mitigate the factors that place children at risk of poor outcomes. Such programmes provide support for the parents, children or family as a whole and the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, is doing that. The support may be in the form of learning activities or other structured experiences that affect the child directly or that have indirect effects such as training parents or otherwise enhancing caregiving environments.

As part of a recent study in America, 19 or 20 peer reviewed items of literature showed the effectiveness of early intervention. Investing additional resources in early childhood education and the economic gains that accrue from it can overcome threats to healthy development such as resource disparities in early childhood. It also addresses the consequences of those threats for educational outcomes and beyond. Programmes that provide child development services from the prenatal period to the early intervention in school and preschool, scientific studies and sound evaluation are important. A literature review identified 20 such programmes, and the findings about the outcome of the programmes in respect of 19 were favourable. That is American research, which is more advanced than the Irish research but the Irish are catching up thanks to the Minister’s commissioning of research.

I refer to family support, home visiting and service provision. The Minister referred to bringing services into the classroom and child-centred environments. This has been proven to be beneficial. Programmes supplemented by parental education, delivered in the same settings and through home visits, have been found to be beneficial. Early intervention programmes demonstrate significant and often sizeable benefits in the progression of educational attainment, health, delinquency and crime, social welfare, programme use and labour market success. In some cases, the improved outcomes of these domains were demonstrated soon after the programme had ended. In other cases, favourable impacts were observed through adolescence and into the transition to adulthood. In the case of the Perry preschool programme, lasting benefits in a multiple domains have been measured for 35 years after the intervention ended.
The Minister and other Members referred to the report on the savings made for the State, be it in the one to 16 or one to 26 year category. The evidence indicates there can be longer lasting substantial gains. The report should be circulated widely. Parents of participating children can also gain from early intervention programmes. Senator Jillian van Turnhout referred to the ratio of gross domestic product to youth unemployment. Early intervention programmes would save more if they were introduced. This strategy is in the Minister’s good hands.

Posted under Education

This post was written by on June 25, 2013