A STAGGERING €63,000 A DAY is spent transporting children with Autism and additional needs in Dublin 6 to neighbouring schools due to a lack of local spaces, it’s emerged.
Sinn Fein TD Chris Andrews made the stark revelation in the Dail as he hit out at the Department of Education for providing ZERO ASD units in Ringsend and surrounds.
Describing the situation as “bonkers” he revealed: “As kids go back to school many of our children with additional needs will be put on a bus and driven past the local school where their sisters and brothers are.
“Aside from the ethical issue, in south Dublin alone over e63,000 a day is spent on just transporting these children around south Dublin on buses and in taxis.”
Campaigners have called for an immediate review by the Department of Education.
One group, Involve Autism D6D6W & Surrounds, said: “There’s a serious issue in D6/D6W with schools’ continued reluctance to open classes.
“We have children with no early intervention places, no primary school places, no secondary places. We’ve parents who are distraught again as they have no places for their children in September.
“The system seems to make everything as difficult as possible for children and parents with zero accountability.”
Deputy Andrews said it was a shameful indictment on the Government that a recent review saw an additional 60 ASD spaces provided in Dublin 24 – almost doubling its provision to 140 in total.
Yet, he said, “D6 had zero classes and continues to have zero classes, in an area with over 6,000 children, we were left untouched”.
He added: “I repeat, €63,000 a day. It’s absolutely bonkers to be spending that sort of money each day on children with additional needs to bus them out of their communities to attend ASD classes elsewhere.
“This approach of ‘anywhere will do’ towards children with Autism and additional needs needs to stop. This time has been particularly challenging for these families.
“We need to put them first, not as an afterthought.”