July news from Special Needs Parents Association

          Call to Action Demonstrations

On 19th June the NCSE announced that Resource Teaching hours would be maintained at 2012/13 levels for the next school year. This was despite a substantial increase in pupils meeting the criteria for Resource Teaching which would result in a further 10% reduction in resource hours per individual pupil on top of the 15% individual reduction already imposed since 2011. A demonstration was called by INTO and supported by Special Needs Parents Association and other disability groups in response to the announcement. The government subsequently backed down and INTO called off their protest. However parents decided to continue with the planned demonstrations to highlight the many difficulties that pupils with special needs continue to face and to called for TDs to support a Dáil motion for an increase in the number of resource teachers and SNAs to match the increase in pupils with special needs meeting the criteria for these special educational supports.
Over 2000 parents and supporters turned out at the twelve separate demonstrations that took place around the country at short notice on the 26th June, demanding that the government address issues such as inadequate SNA support due to increasing prevalence of "Shared Access", reductions in resource hours which still stand at 15%, no resource hours for children with Down Syndrome if they fall within the mild intellectual disability range and exclusion, expulsion and restricted access from schools for some pupils due to behavioral difficulties and or cited lack of supports and issues with administration and changes in provision for siblings on the July Provision Scheme.
Special Needs Parents Association was part of the group of disability organisations which was invited to meet with Minister Quinn in advance of the demonstrations to raise the many concerns of parents. Following the meeting with Minister Quinn, the group issued a joint press statement and a further meeting with representatives from the groups was immediately scheduled to address the impending July Provision Scheme . You can read the joint press statement here.
Well done and many thanks to all those parents who organised and attended protests, contacted TDs and spoke to the media about their personal situations and the reality of the impact of decisions made by Government, for their children.
Closure of special preschools in Co Donegal

Ballaghderg Special Needs Pre-School in Letterkenny and St Agnes Special Needs Pre-School in Donegal Town, which both cater for children with moderate to severe disabilities, are facing closure to save the HSE an estimated €630,000. This is despite the fact that mainstream pre-schools lack the resources to accommodate children with very complex needs.
 That means there will be little or no opportunity for the more severely disabled children to attend pre-school or avail of the free ECCE Scheme like every other young child in Ireland.
Parents and Childcare Providers have started the ‘Let Me Be Me” Campaign calling for both special pre-schools to remain open, and drew up a Threshold of Decency Statement, signed by 50 TDs, councillors and healthcare professionals last month which was sent to the HSE.Read more in our press release HERE
 Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill
This month saw the long awaited publication of the Assisted Decision-making (Capacity) Bill to replace the Lunacy Regulations Act 1871.
The Bill will introduce a new legal framework to support people with “impaired decision-making ability” in making decisions so they can manage their own welfare, property and financial affairs.
Read the press release from Inclusion Ireland HERE

SNPA interview with Ombudsman for Children

We recently got together with Emily Logan at the Office of the Ombudsman for Children to produce an accessible video for parents, including captions, outlining the role of the Ombudsman for Children and how to make a complaint. Subjects covered in the video include who can make a complaint, the types of complaints, and the impact of the new remit which allows for another 182 public bodies, including the NCSE, to be investigated by the OCO . Click here to view

Maximise Your Special Needs Tax Credits & Receive Your Full VAT Refunds

More and more parents are resorting to finding their own means of funding their child's essential equipment in the face of long delays in getting funding sanctioned by the HSE. Frequent SNPA Guest Blogger and Financial Advisor Allan Cuthbert sets out the many ways to help reduce out of pocket expenses for providing equipment and adaptations in the home. Click here to read more
Live Every Moment Festival UL Vikings Festival
The Live Every Moment Festival is a family festival being held at the University of Limerick Sports Grounds on 24th August in aid of local charities including Dochas (Help for people with Autism), Clare Crusaders and HealingHorse Ireland.
There will be plenty of fun events for children and adults as well as seminars aimed at parents of children with special needs including sessions with Middletown Autism Centre and KOD Lyons.
More information can be found on our events finder HERE.
Our Website
Our website is designed to provide parents of persons with special needs and disabilities in Ireland with as much useful information as possible in the one place and act as a portal to other beneficial websites. It is a work in progress and is managed by a team of volunteers. If you have any suggestions for site content or have some spare time to volunteer to help update website, we'd love to hear from you! Please email
Light It Up Gold Campaign

In Ireland there are currently over 200 new cases of Childhood Cancer each year. For the first time, the parents and supporters of Childhood Cancer Awareness in Ireland, will light up as many buildings as possible and join with other organisations worldwide to raise awareness of Childhood Cancer and about the inadequate facilities for childhood cancer patients. Key landmark buildings around Ireland, such as, the Dublin Convention Centre, Smithfield and the Firkin Crane, will ‘light up gold’ for the first week of September. There will also be a series of events during the week, beginning with a candlelit vigil in Dublin City Centre and culminating with a "Golden Ball" in the Gibson Hotel on the 7th of September.
For more information on the campaign see Lightitupgold on Facebook

The Free Travel Pass
If you qualify for Carer's Allowance you will automatically receive a Free Travel Pass which allows you to travel for free on most Dublin Bus services, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, DART, LUAS and some private bus and ferry services.
The travel pass ONLY entitles the named holder of the pass to travel free, NOT the person they are accompanying. 
Read more on the scheme HERE
Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young Persons 0-18

SNPA has been involved with Inclusion Ireland, National Coordinator Caroline Canton and Ann Bourke, HSE Disability Unit in a Communications Group to examine and develop strategies to improve communications, awareness and parental involvement in the planning and implementation of the reconfiguration of disability services for children 0-18 across each HSE area in Ireland. Each HSE area Implementation Group consists of all disability stakeholders in the area and parent representatives. The Local Leads or coordinators for each area participated in a recent training day in HSE HQ in Dublin, where SNPA delivered a presentation on parental involvement with particular reference to the experience and skills that parents can bring to the Local Implementation Group and how to support their role and develop better local communication strategies to increase parent awareness and involvement. Parents already involved as Parent Representatives on different Local Implementation Groups in Dublin & Mid Leinster will be given an opportunity to get together in October (dtba) to share experiences on what stages of implementation their areas are at and how they manage their roles and communicate with the wider parent body in their respective areas. It is intended to have similar meetings for parents involved in the PDS program in other areas at a later date.
Click here to read background on national plan and PDS newsletters for parents and professionals which also contain details of public information meetings for parents.
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